Parshat Ha’azinu 5784: Moshe’s Message to Future Generations

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 5784: Moshe’s Message to Future Generations

by Moshe Burt

This year Parshat Ha’azinu falls out on the Shabbos Before Yom Kippur.

We begin with an excerpt from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Parsha Summary for Parshat Ha’azinu in his sefer “Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim (page 351) :

…Moshe raises his voice in song as he shares Shirat Ha’azinu, the song recorded in Parshat Ha’azinu, with the Jews on the last day of his life. Over the course of this song, designed to serve as eternal testimony to the nation, Moshe recalls Hashem’s kindnesses to the people and predicts their future sins, punishment and eventual redemption. In spite of national failure, suffering and exile, Moshe proclaims, the bond between Am Yisrael and Hashem will never be severed.

We cite Rav Goldin’s context which seems to indicate that the purpose of Shirat Ha’azinu was to impact upon man’s heart, 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. When the Supreme One gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of man, He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of the B’nei Yisrael.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posukim 7 and 8)

Artscroll Stone Chumash 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?

Artscroll Stone Chumash Commentary (ibid, posuk 8) : After the Flood [Mabul], when all of the people who… lived together and tried to build the Tower of Babel [Migdal Bavel] (Artscroll Chumash citing Breish’t, Perek 11), Hashem decided to scatter them. He divided them into seventy languages and separate nations, corresponding to the number of the B’nei Yisrael, i.e. the seventy members of Yaakov’s family who would later descend into Egypt. (Artscroll Chumash citing Rashi) The connotation is that when the nations… forfeited the opportunity to be the bearers of Hashem’s mission for humanity, He substituted Israel for them and made the number of the Jews’ families parallel to the number of primary national groups.

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

“They would provoke His jealousy with strangers; they would anger Him with abominations.” (Sefer ibid, 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.” (ibid, Sefer Devarim, Perek 32, posuk 17)

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

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

Artscroll Stone Chumash 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.

Artscroll Stone Chumash 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)

Artscroll Stone Chumash 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.

Artscroll Stone Chumash 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.

Shem Mishmuel comments (translated to English, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, Parsha Ha’azinu, page 435) :

As the spiritual standing of Klal Yisrael has declined, there have been people in each generation who have been holier than those who followed them. There have been some generations where the great ones have been truly angelic and, in comparison, those who followed them were ordinary men. But if the second generation where men, we, who follow them and are so puny in comparison, may only describe ourselves as donkeys.

We may question the value of this comparison to the earlier generations…. It is very valuable, for it ensures that we remember that we are not perfect. It is very easy to assume that we are living life to its fullest and are great tzaddikim. The comparison to those who lived in earlier times will shatter our illusions.

In our times, the tendencies of contemporary “elites,” i.e. governmental authorities, the police, the judicial system seem to take the shape of fake and false “morality,” mercy toward the cruel in what amounts to a judicial dictatorship, not in the spirit of righteous judgement. This 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.

R’ Goldin notes (“Unlocking The Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, page 364):

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.

Finally, returning to Rabbi Goldin’s Parsha summary {ibid, page 351):

Upon concluding Shirat Ha’azinu, Moshe encourages the people to preserve its message across the ages.

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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. 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 nine 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 see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia make Aliyah enmass, via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. 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!!!

May You, All of My Brothers and Sisters, be Inscribed and Sealed for another Year of Life… Now and always! L’Shana Tova!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.