Parsha Ha’azinu 5772: Heaven and Earth — Witnesses, Guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel — Then and Now?

by Moshe Burt

Shem Mishmuel describes Ha’azinu as;

A poem which Moshe Rabbeinu recited to Klal Yisrael… It discusses the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, their future, how they should conduct themselves, how they will stray, and how Hashem will treat them mercifully. (Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, pge 433)

He further indicates that there has been connection, since the Mabul — “the great Flood” — between the original 70 souls of B’nai Yisrael and the 70 primary nations which emerged after the Mabul to where the B’nai Yisrael, were each to achieve their individual spiritual potential and righteousness, it would impact the rectification of the nations to which each were connected.

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, p’sukim 7-9) cites S’forno recalling from history that Hashem created the world so that all of the nations would join together in achieving Hashem’s goal of righteousness, but when they failed, He chose B’nai Yisrael as the paradigm of that goal. Hashem gave them a Land where they could serve Him according to Torah’s laws with simcha, success and prosperity. But when the B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and forsook Hashem for other counsel and avodah zora, they deserved destruction, but to avoid Chillul Hashem — desecration of His Name, Hashem, in His mercy, only exiled them in order that they be redeemed in times of Moshiach and the Ge’ula Shlaima.

Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l, in the Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 742-743) renders “Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…” and comments:

“Incline your ear, O Heaven, I would speak, And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

“V’adabeirah — I wish to speak, I have something to say. This is the request addressed to heaven. Moshe is willing to speak only after heaven [perhaps euphemistically meaning Hashem?, although the “h” of heaven is not capitalized — MB] has inclined its ear to listen to his words.”

Ha’azinu: This is appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel and of what will be said regarding Israel’s future.

Ha’azin is to be distinguished from Shema. Ha’azin means to incline one’s ear; the Ma’azin [the one asked to incline — MB] turns to the speaker in order to listen to his words. By contrast, one can hear (L’shmo’ah) without wishing to do so.

Heaven and earth are called upon to represent Hashem’s Covenant, and this representation is carried out primarily by heaven, and only indirectly by the earth. Heaven is active; the earth is essentially passive, because all of the blessing and curse in the physical development of the earth… results from the cosmic changes that occur outside the earth, and these are included in the concept of HaShemayim [Heaven].

In the service of the purposes of Hashem’s rule heaven is active, dispensing its gifts, whereas the earth is essentially passive, a receiver.

The Ha’azinu poem asks (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 30) regarding either Israel’s conquest over an enemy posssesing vastly superior forces, or Israel’s conquest by her enemies despite her possessing numerically superior forces:

“For how could one pursue a thousand, and two cause a myriad to flee?”

But L’lmod U’Lamed, (L’lmod U’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Ha’azinu, p. 189-190) notes by this posuk, that:

Moshe reminds B’nai Yisrael how when they find themselves capable of defeating a vastly superior army, it was Hashem Who is responsible for their victory.

L’lmod U’Lamed continues by describing contemporary instances where Hashem protected Israel, in the Six Day War; the paratrooper who parachuted into Yerushalayim and was hit by snipers and emerged uninjured — a bullet lodged in his Tefillin bag, and in the Yom Kippur War when a tank crew recited Tehillim and then confronted what it thought was enemy tanks and it’s cannon jammed when attempting to fire. Turned out that these “enemy tanks” were actually manned by the fellow Jews who had captured them in battle and were now returning to their base.

How far we have fallen, how much the B’nai Yisrael has rebelled such that it’s military seems incapable, in the Lebanon conflict, in Cast Lead, in sending soldiers against armed terrorists in Flotillas with paint guns, of defeating a lesser foe? In fact, can it be said that Israel lost those conflicts and that the nation is now left in an even more vulnerable position than before with so-called “UN peacekeepers” impinging on Israeli sovereignty and freedom of military action, or that the nations are screaming, unjustifiably, that Israel used excessive force on the Flotilla ship after the armed terrorists nearly slaughtered the ill-equipped Chayalim — that Hashem on a collective level denied them His favor? Has the national governance not been an evolvement of forsaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora?

And do we see the same scenario playing out with more onslaughts of rockets from Gaza, and in the UN with the PA’s (read PLO) push for UN recognition of “statehood” regarding the government’s total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem, to avowed Arab enemies implaccably bent upon our destruction? Do we see all of this playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the masses, each with their own individual issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges Torah and Yiddishkiet from its population?

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos! L’Shana Tova — may all who read this be inscribed and sealed for a healthy, happy and prosperous 5772 and every year thereafter to at least 120!!

Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.