Parshat Ha’azinu 5782: “Witnesses Against Them – the Heavens and the Earth”

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShavua Ha’azinu is being sponsored by Eliyahu and Shuli Gherman of Ramat Beit Shemesh to commemorate Eliyahu’s Bar Mitzvah Parsha and dedicated for Refuah Shleima for the cholim of Am Yisrael and for Hatslucha for the Gherman family in Eretz Yisrael.. To the Gherman family, 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 5782: “Witnesses Against Them – the Heavens and the Earth”

By Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Haazinu opens with these crucial words from Moshe Rabbeinu and Rashi’s commentary on this first posuk:

“Give Ear, O Heavens and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

Rashi: “Give Ear, O Heavens” that I am giving warning to Israel, and be witnesses to the matter [note #1: it is to summon them as witnesses to what follows — The Sapirstein Edition: The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary citing Minchas Yehudah; Sifsei Chachamim], for thus did I tell [Israel] that you shall be witnesses, “and may the earth hear” — Why did Moshe call the heavens and the earth against them? Moshe said — “I am flesh and blood. Tomorrow I will be dead. — If Israel were to say, ‘We do not accept the covenant upon ourselves,’ who could come and contradict them?” This is why he called witnesses against them — the heavens and the earth, — witnesses who last forever. [note #4: Moshe told Israel that there are eternal witnesses to his rebuke, so that they could not deny that they were warned should punishment befall them. ibid, citing Nachalas Yaakov] — And furthermore, if [Israel] will be meritorious, the witnesses will come and give [Israel] its reward. {As it is stated,} “The vine will yield its fruit, and the earth will yield its produce — and the heavens will give their dew.” [note #5 ibid, citing Zechariah, Perek 8, posuk 12] And if [Israel] will be found guilty, the hand of the witnesses will be the first against them [note #6, This is an illusion to Sefer Devarim Perek 17, posuk 7 which reads, “The hand of the witnesses shall be upon him first to put him to death, and the hand of the entire people afterward…”], as it says, He will restrain the heavens and there will be now rain, — and the ground will not yield its produce [note #7, referring back to Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 17], — and afterwards, “you will be swiftly banished” [note #7, referring back to Sefer Devarim, Perek 11, posuk 17] by the nations. [note #8, ibid, citing Sifsei 306, Sefer Zikaron, Yosef Hallel, The punishments coming from heaven and earth constitute “The hand of the witnesses shall be upon him first ,” while the banishment by the nations constitutes “and the hand of the entire people afterward”].(Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 1 rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition The Torah: with Rashi’s Commentary, page 330)

Parshat Haazinu’s opening posuk, and Rashi’s lengthy commentary on it, causes this author to hearken back to Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s rendering to English of Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posukim 16-19 of Parshat Vayeilech in his Sefer, “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (pages 328-329):

Moshe is about to die; the fulfillment of… [his] dreams will now rest with the nation. Hashem summons him for one final message… [which] is nothing less than devastating. Hashem informs Moshe that the nation is destined to sin grievously and to be terribly punished:

“Behold, you will lie with your fathers, and this nation [read as this people] will rise and sin after the foreign gods of the land into whose midst they will come; and they will forsake Me and annul the covenant that I have established with them.”

“And My anger will be kindled against them on that day and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them and they will be as prey, and many evils and troubles will come upon them. And they will say on that day: ‘Is it not because my G’d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?'”

“And I will certainly hide My face on that day, on account of all of the evil that they will have done, in that they turned to other gods.”

“And it will be, when many evils and distresses come upon them, then this song [Hashem seeming to refer to Ha’azinu] shall testify before them as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from the mouth of their offspring…”

In turn, both Parshat Haazinu’s opening posuk and Rashi, as well the four posukim from Parshat Vayeilech (above) bring this author to recall a recent Shabbos where a point was made; “We are where we’re supposed to be,” either during a drasha given by Rabbi Avishai David, Rav of Kehillat Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham, or by Dr. Eliyahu Gherman who gave a chabura on the subject of the upcoming Shmitta year, following the Rav’s drasha. This author can’t positively recall, for attribution, which of these Talmudei Chachamim made the point, therefore both are mentioned here.

This author views all of the above as relating to Am Yisrael throughout the generations, but particularly to events of current day.

Why are we, with the rest of the world, afflicted with the corona pandemic and its numerous variants? Why the catastrophe at Meron on L’ag B’Omer? Why the frequent bombardments of Israel by Hamas by way of rockets, fiery kites and balloons? Why the periodic rockets launched from South Lebanon by Hezbollah? Why the immense fires outside of Jerusalem this summer? Why the riots and attacks upon Jews by Israeli Arabs in Israel’s cities? Why a coalition government by politicians who betray their constituent voters and thus, allow themselves to be controlled by a “kingmaker” — an alien, enemy political entity who constantly threatens this coalition if it doesn’t get its way, thus effectively handcuffing the Israel police and impairing Israel’s security — Israel’s ability to defend herself?

May the heavens and earth bear witness!” “This nation will rise and sin…” “We are where we’re supposed to be.”

Hashem gave us all freedom of choice and thus, each of us is “where we’re supposed to be” according to the path we have chosen. This author recalls hearing this back in Chutz L’Aretz in early days of being a Ba’al Teshuva. Can this adage apply as well to the nation collectively?

As individuals, and as Kehillot, we’ve re-coronated Hashem as Melech during Rosh Hashana and have sought the path to atonement through Yom Kippur.

But are we collectively, Am Yisrael, by virtue of the path the nation has taken, “where we’re supposed to be?” Are heaven and earth witnesses against us? Has “this nation rise[n] to sin” in other ways, as in our day there are not plaster or cement figures of avodah zora? Has the nation of Israel shown before the world that we have accepted Hashem’s covenant? Have we, as a nation begun to truly manifest atonement and dedicate ourselves anew to Hashem’s covenant with us?

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 thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May 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 seven 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. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!

Good Shabbos!
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.