Parshat Ha’azinu 5780: The Relevance of the Past to the Present — In Our Time

Shalom Friends;

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, and dedicated for continued good health for Atara Tziona bat Shulamit Gila and for Hatslucha for the Gherman family in Eretz Yisrael. 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.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Ha’azinu 5780: The Relevance of the Past to the Present — In Our Time

By Moshe Burt

Once again, this year Parshat Ha’azinu falls out two days before Succot.

Last year, in citing from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin on Parshat Ha’azinu in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (pages 353-354 ) we focused on the effects of Shirat Ha’azinu on man’s heart.

This year we cite Rav Goldin’s context which seems to indicate that the purpose of Shirat Ha’azinu was to also impact upon man’s mind and thought processes (ibid., page 358):

The first section of Shirat Ha’azinu, Moshe’s dramatic song… summarized the past kindnesses bestowed by Hashem upon the nation. After a short passage extolling Hashem, [Moshe is] chastising the nation for their failures, and inviting them to consider the lessons of the past…

It is in this regard that we look at several posukim and commentaries (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 7 and 15-19 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, pages 1101-1105) which seem ever pertinent in our times:

“Remember the days of yore, understand the years of generation after generation. Ask your father and he will relate it to you, and your elders and they will tell you.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 7)

Commentary: “The days of yore… generation after generation.” At the core of much human error is a lack of perspective. Most people refuse to believe that the past is relevant to them, and they suffer this foolish myopia [lack of foresight or discernment, obtuseness. narrow-mindedness; intolerance.] Moshe pleads with Israel to take counsel with those who have experience and perspective. Generation after generation were brought down for their sins of immorality, greed or aggression. Does Israel think it will be different?

“Yeshurun became fat and kicked. You became fat, you became thick, you became corpulent [large or bulky of body; portly; stout; fat.] — and it deserted Hashem its Maker, and was contemptuous of the Rock of its salvation.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 15)

“They would provoke His jealousy with strangers; they would anger Him with abonimations.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 16)

“They would slaughter to demons without power, gods who they knew not, newcomers recently arrived, whom your ancestors did not dread.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 17)

“You ignored the Rock Who gave birth to you, and forgot Hashem Who brought you forth.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 18)

“Hashem will see and be provoked by the anger of His sons and daughters.” (Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 19)

Commentary (ibid, posukim 15-18): Prosperity brings dissolution. Good fortune is a serious challenge to a nation’s moral standing, for people are prone to indulge their lusts when they have the resources to do so. Israel failed the test.

Commentary (ibid, posuk 15): Having come into the Land and enjoyed Hashem’s loving gifts, Israel was at the height of its calling — but too much prosperity led to its downfall. Even Yeshurun is in danger if it succumbs to its desires. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rav Hirsch)

When the nation’s elite pursued physical pleasures — growing “fat, thick and corpulent — the outcome was that the ordinary folk deserted Hashem and showed Him contempt. For such is human nature: When the great stray a little bit, the commoners fall into steep decline. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Sforno)

Commentary (ibid, posukim 16-17) Israel will anger Hashem by worshiping strange gods and performing such acts as sodomy and idolatry, which Hashem finds abominable. They will bring offerings to powerless demons, to newly invented gods that their ancestors never knew or scorned as hoaxes.

Commentary (ibid, posuk 19): Hashem’s wrath. Israel’s provocations will not go unrequited. If the people use Hashem’s blessings to anger Him, He will remove the blessings and cast them [Israel] to the mercies of their enemies.

In our times, our tendencies seem to take the shape of fake and false “morality,” mercy toward the cruel, which inevitably leads to cruelty to the merciful, abomination and perceived dependence on a so-called super-power, on third-party nations and their leaders rather than on The Almighty. And so, the purpose of Parshat Ha’azinu seems, to this author based on the various commentaries above, to impact upon not only man’s heart, but upon man’s mind and thought processes.

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.”

Two posukim in our Parshat (ibid, posukim 16-17) bring to mind today’s malaise — the new “normal”, today’s so-called western “morality, so-called “human rights.”

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.”

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 with righteousness and integrity — 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 forsaking 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 going forward to Succot and to the years ahead.

R’ Goldin sums up (ibid, page 364):

Finally, [one] might add to… the above approaches by suggesting that Moshe omits any mention of Yetziyot Mitzrayim and Revelation [at Har Sinai] from his narrative simply in order to stay on message.

Standing before Am Yisrael during the final hours of his life, …[Moshe Rabbeinu] has a single agenda. He desperately wants to convince his people to keep faith with Hashem, to remain loyal to their Creator and to His law over the long term.

….The quality and strength of your relationship with another is determined by whether or not your partner can trust you to “be there.”

During the years that have brought you to this point, the most important lesson you have learned is that you can trust in Hashem’s constant presence and personal care…. The true measure of Hashem’s love for you has been shown through His constancy, through His personal care for you over the course of your wilderness wanderings, day after day.

Day after day, year after year, century after century, you must prove to Hashem that He can trust you.

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 twice 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 the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five 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.