This week, our Parshat HaShevua Ha’azinu is being sponsored by Dr. Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh to commemorate Eliyahu’s Bar Mitzvah parsha — Ha’azinu. To Mishpochat Gherman, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Parshat Ha’azinu falls out this year on Shabbos Shuvah, before Yom Kippur.
Our Parshat begins with Moshe’s words at the beginning of his final address to B’nei Yisrael:
“Ha’azinu HaShemayim V’adabeirah…”
“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1)
Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l, in the Hirsch Chumash (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1, pages 742-743) renders Moshe’s statement “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.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 1-2)
“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 in R’ Hirsch’s English rendering — 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.
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, translated to English, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, pge 433)
Moshe continues and the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash provides commentary (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash pages 1100-1101):
“May my teaching drop like the rain, my utterance flow like the dew; like storm winds upon vegetation and like the raindrops upon the blades of grass. (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 2)
Moshe called upon heaven and earth to bear witness to the calamities that will befall Israel if it sins — and the ultimate joy that will come with the final redemption [Ge’ula Shlaima]
Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Commentary on Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 7-9, pages 1101-1102) 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.
In our times, this rebellion seems to take the shape of fake and false “morality”; abomination and perceived dependence on a so-called super-power, on third-party nations and their leaders other than The Almighty.
Tehillim Psalm 81 clearly expresses the point of Hashem’s mercy where B’nai Yisrael rebelled, forgot and strayed from Hashem and Torah (Artscroll Nusach Ashkenaz siddur, page 169):
“I am Hashem, your G’d, who elevated you from the land of Mitzrayim, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But My people did not heed My voice and Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, they follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant, I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand…. He would feed him with the cream of wheat, and with honey from a rock sate you.”
There are two posukim in our Parshat which bring to mind today’s malaise — the new “normal”, today’s so-called western “morality, so-called “human rights”:
“…They would anger Him with abominations. They would slaughter to demons without power, gods whom they knew not, newcomers recently arrived, whom your ancestors did not dread.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 16-17, as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)
Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash, page 1105) briefly comments on this posuk:
Israel will anger Hashem by… performing such acts as… Hashem regards as abominable. They will bring offerings… to newly invented gods that their ancestors never knew…
Rav Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah” (pages 467-468) goes much further in discussing the abovementioned posuk (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 17). He first renders the end of the posuk slightly different and then comments:
“…Newcomers recently arrived, whom your forefathers did not know.”
“The process of new false ideologies,” commented Rabbi Avigdor Miller (in his sefer “Rejoice O Youth,” page 25), “is part of the constant test of virtue which living men must endure all of their lives. But the Torah and the Torah people are an old and established firm, which has been in business for few thousand years and has weathered many crises and outlived many competitors. We view the opponents, physical or ideological, who rise up against us in every generation…; and we know that they will go down into oblivion as did all the upstarts who preceded them.”
So, what about the government of Israel’s seeming total preoccupation with abandoning and handing over Jewish Lands, including Jerusalem to avowed Arab enemies implacably bent upon our destruction, in the bogus name and ideology of “land for peace/piece” or “two states for two peoples (sic)”? What of our government’s concern for the well-being of adversarial civilians who are caught in the enemy’s “human shields” strategic tactics, at the expense of the lives of our military brethren for what the nations will say?
What of the hesitation to act against terrorists’ families such as who kill a teenage girl as she slept, or who ambush Jewish families in their cars on the roads of Yehudah and the Shomron, or who invade and slaughter Jews in their home during their Shabbos dinner? And under whose sovereignty does Har HaBayit belong anyway that an equivocal, negativist Israeli government is not permitted to install electronic detectors, surveillance cameras and other protections to insure the lives of Israeli personnel stationed there?
What of the concern for treating a wounded terrorist before treating and saving the life of that terrorist’s Jewish victim(s) or the terror enabler, the slanderer of Israel who is on a list awaiting an Israeli lung transplant? Yet they imprison a soldier for the “crime” of making sure a mortally wounded terrorist was indeed dead, thus removing the danger of further Jewish casualties? What of same-genderism? Civil marriage? Mixed prayer at the Kotel with the neo-progressive “Women of the Wall” and their chutzpadik haphazard donning of Tefillin, particularly the Shel Rosh and their fixation with dancing with Sifrei Torah and their other ossur customs?
Do we see all of these playing out as a result of the complacency and preoccupation of the masses, each individual, each sector with their own individual and group issues and matzavim while Israel’s governance plots, based on the direction the air of public opinion blows and on principles of divide and conquer, the eradication of all vestiges of Torah — its principles, its standards of morality, as well as Yiddishkiet and spirituality from its population?
We are, after nearly 2,000 years, a national sovereignty, in OUR OWN Land, Eretz Yisrael. We who live in Eretz Yisrael are no longer in cities, towns, nations dominated by other religions who would demand that we renounce the Almighty, as was the case of the Jews of Mainz where the Bishop demanded that R’ Amnon convert with the implied perilous threat to the Jews of Mainz should he refuse. Instead, we suffer governance by groups who, by and large, at heart, seek to turn Jews into Israelis who are devoid of Torah spirituality.
As Jews in OUR LAND, we have the responsibility to behave as Jews — both in words and actions — between the governing and the governed, between our brethren in all sectors and, on battlefields of mandatory wars for Torah, for our survival, versus adversaries who seek nothing less than our total annihilation.
Can it be said, despite the evolvement in our national governance of foresaking Hashem, our roots, our heritage for other counsels and avodah zora, that Hashem continues to protect us with his Clouds of Glory? What of the appointment of the heaven and earth as witnesses and guarantors of Hashem’s Covenant with Israel? We must all collectively ponder and internalize our responsibilities in living up to our obligations to this Covenant with Hashem with the approach of Yom Kippur and going forward to Succot and to the years ahead.
May we, the B’nei 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 and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
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.