• Dvar for Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

    In Haazinu we are urged to remember years past and to understand each and every generation (“dor vador”, 32:7) in the context of generations before it. As Rabbi Hirsch suggests, the word meaning “years past” could also mean “understand” (“shenot”). How could understanding the generation help us?

    Rabbi Riskin points out that in Shemot there is a similar directive, although the difference is significant. In Shemot, it says “dor lador”, which means “from one generation to the next.” If we combine both phrases, there are two steps to evaluate and approach life situations: One step is to understand the context of the topic from a historical perspective. The second step is to evaluate life as it presents itself, a perspective more deeply rooted in reality as it currently is. While our Passuk focuses on facing current reality, it nevertheless mentions elders that can help guide us through life with their connection to the past that will light our future.

    As we embark on a new year, appreciating events in the context of our history will help us both appreciate and navigate whatever issues confront us.

  • Dvar for Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

    Parshat Haazinu is Moshe’s last speech, delivered as a song because songs reach deeper into our souls. In the beginning of the song (32:4), it says “The Rock! – Perfect is his work, for all his paths are justice; a G-d of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He”. This statement is loaded, saying that Hashem is perfect, just, fair, righteous, and without iniquity. What’s strange is that it begins with comparing G-d to a rock, and then saying that G-d’s work is perfect. What’s the Torah trying to tell us by mentioning a rock, and by using all those terms? The Chafetz Chaim answers one question with a story about having faith: A man had an only son that was sick, and spared no expense finding him a cure. One doctor finally cured the boy, and told the father that the son got sick because of certain meat that he ate. The father vowed to keep that meat away from his son. Years passed, the father had to go away on a business trip, and he had his family watch the boy. After he left, the boy was tempted by the smell of the meat, ate some, and became deathly ill again. When the father returned, he called the doctor and begged him to do all he could. Once again the doctor was successful in healing the boy, and the father decided to never leave his son again. A while later the father had a party (with meat), and when the son walked in, the father quickly rushed him out. The guests all watched in wonderment, but they didn’t understand that it was for the son’s sake.

    We are the guests, wondering why things are happening in our lives, but we now know that G-d’s work is just, fair, and perfect as a rock in every way. But a rock is not perfect, you say? Well, it may not be perfect in shape or color, but it’s solid, consistent, and always grounded, which are the qualities G-d shows us, and the very qualities we should emulate this coming year. By this time next year, may we all be rock Jews, in every sense of both words.

  • Dvar for Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

    Parshat Haazinu is Moshe’s last speech, delivered as a song because songs reach deeper into our souls. In the beginning of the song (32:4), it says “The Rock! – Perfect is his work, for all his paths are justice; a G-d of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He”. This statement is loaded, saying that Hashem is perfect, just, fair, righteous, and without iniquity. What’s strange is that it begins with comparing G-d to a rock, and then saying that G-d’s work is perfect. What’s the Torah trying to tell us by mentioning a rock, and by using all those terms? Luckily, the Chafetz Chaim answers one question with a story about having faith: A man had an only son that was sick, and spared no expense finding him a cure. One doctor finally cured the boy, and told the father that the son got sick because of certain meat that he ate. The father vowed to keep that meat away from his son. Years passed, the father had to go away on a business trip, and he had his family watch the boy. After he left, the boy was tempted by the smell of the meat, ate some, and became deathly ill again. When the father returned, he called the doctor and begged him to do all he could. Once again the doctor was successful in healing the boy, and the father decided to never leave his son again. A while later the father had a party (with meat), and when the son walked in, the father quickly rushed him out. The guests all watched in wonderment, but they didn’t understand that it was for the son’s sake.

    We are the guests, wondering why things are happening in our lives, but we now know that G-d’s work is just, fair, and perfect as a ROCK in every way. But a rock is not perfect, you say? Well, it may not be perfect in shape or color, but it’s solid, consistent, and always grounded, which are the qualities G-d shows us, and the very qualities we should emulate this coming year. By this time next year, may we all be ROCK Jews, in every sense of BOTH words.

  • Dvar for Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

    Parshat Haazinu is Moshe’s last speech, delivered as a song because songs reach deeper into our souls. In the beginning of the song (32:4), it says “The Rock! – Perfect is his work, for all his paths are justice; a G-d of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He”. This statement is loaded, saying that Hashem is perfect, just, fair, righteous, and without iniquity. What’s strange is that it begins with comparing G-d to a rock, and then saying that G-d’s work is perfect. What’s the Torah trying to tell us by mentioning a rock, and by using all those terms? Luckily, the Chafetz Chaim answers one question with a story about having faith: A man had an only son that was sick, and spared no expense finding him a cure. One doctor finally cured the boy, and told the father that the son got sick because of certain meat that he ate. The father vowed to keep that meat away from his son. Years passed, the father had to go away on a business trip, and he had his family watch the boy. After he left, the boy was tempted by the smell of the meat, ate some, and became deathly ill again. When the father returned, he called the doctor and begged him to do all he could. Once again the doctor was successful in healing the boy, and the father decided to never leave his son again. A while later the father had a party (with meat), and when the son walked in, the father quickly rushed him out. The guests all watched in wonderment, but they didn’t understand that it was for the son’s sake.

    We are the guests, wondering why things are happening in our lives, but we now know that G-d’s work is just, fair, and perfect as a ROCK in every way. But a rock is not perfect, you say? Well, it may not be perfect in shape or color, but it’s solid, consistent, and always grounded, which are the qualities G-d shows us, and the very qualities we should emulate this coming year. By this time next year, may we all be ROCK Jews, in every sense of BOTH words.
  • Daily Aliya for Haazinu, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe and Joshua teach this song to the Israelites. Moshe implores the people: “Pay close attention to this: it isn’t an empty teaching; it is our life, and with it we will long endure on our land.” G‑d then tells Moshe to climb up Mount Nevo, from where he will view the land of Israel from afar before he passes away.

    Only if we make the Torah our life will we be worthy of occupying the land which G-d gave us. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege we need to constantly earn.

  • Daily Aliya for Haazinu, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Then G‑d will turn His wrath against Israel’s oppressors. “I will make My arrows drunk with their blood, My sword will consume their flesh.” At that time, when G‑d will avenge the blood of His servants, the nations of the world will sing the praises of Israel. With this, the song of Ha’azinu concludes.

    The Parsha until this point is written (in a Torah scroll) in an unusual manner. This is a Tradition passed down through the generations from scribe to scribe. The only other portion of the Torah to be written differently from the rest of the Torah (and different from Haazinu as well) is the Song of the Sea in B’shalach.

  • Daily Aliya for Haazinu, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: If the nations were wise they would have understood that no nation could experience such utter devastation unless G‑d had completely abandoned them and delivered them to their enemies. Otherwise, “How can one enemy pursue a thousand of Israel and two put ten thousand to flight?” Rather, the Israelites’ misery came as a result of their actions, which resembled those of Sodom and Gomorrah, actions which G‑d chronicled from the start. However, the time will then come when G‑d will have a change of heart regarding His people. At that point He will ask them to note that all the gods which they had patronized were unable to help them when He unleashed His punishments against them, for only G‑d has the ability to injure or heal, cause death or bring life.

    Our challenge is to contemplate the above and understand the many lessons contained in G-d’s (and Moshe’s) words. The bottom line is that although Israel strays from the proper path, G-d will not abandon us, and He will rally to our side in the face of our enemies, if we would only realize this and appreciate the awesome power of G-d.

  • Daily Aliya for Haazinu, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d became incensed by His children’s behavior. He decided to hide His face from them, and to send upon them invading armies, wild beasts, plagues, demons, and famine. If not for the obtuse nations who would have foolishly taken credit for Israel’s demise, G‑d would’ve utterly destroyed the Jewish nation.

    The Gemara, in a play on words, tells us that the concept of Hester Panim (hiding G-d’s face) is personified in Esther (Hester/Esther), who lived in exile and at a time that G-d chose not to reveal himself in open ways and generally operates through nature.

  • Dvar for Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

    Parshat Haazinu is Moshe’s last speech, delivered as a song because songs reach deeper into our souls. In the beginning of the song (32:4), it says “The Rock! – Perfect is his work, for all his paths are justice; a G-d of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He”. This statement is loaded, saying that Hashem is perfect, just, fair, righteous, and without iniquity. What’s strange is that it begins with comparing G-d to a rock, and then saying that G-d’s work is perfect. What’s the Torah trying to tell us by mentioning a rock, and by using all those terms? Luckily, the Chafetz Chaim answers one question with a story about having faith: A man had an only son that was sick, and spared no expense finding him a cure. One doctor finally cured the boy, and told the father that the son got sick because of certain meat that he ate. The father vowed to keep that meat away from his son. Years passed, the father had to go away on a business trip, and he had his family watch the boy. After he left, the boy was tempted by the smell of the meat, ate some, and became deathly ill again. When the father returned, he called the doctor and begged him to do all he could. Once again the doctor was successful in healing the boy, and the father decided to never leave his son again. A while later the father had a party (with meat), and when the son walked in, the father quickly rushed him out. The guests all watched in wonderment, but they didn’t understand that it was for the son’s sake.

    We are the guests, wondering why things are happening in our lives, but we now know that G-d’s work is just, fair, and perfect as a rock in every way. But a rock is not perfect? Well, it may not be perfect in shape or color, but it’s solid, consistent, and always grounded, which are the qualities G-d shows us, and the very qualities we should emulate this coming year. By this time next year, may we all be Rock Jews, in every sense of both words.

  • Daily Aliya for Haazinu, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe then speaks of the Israelites’ future. G‑d settled them in the Land of Israel, the “peak of the earth.” He provided them with their every need, the choicest produce, fruit and cattle. But Israel “became fat and rebelled,” and abandoned the G‑d that made them and provided them with all their wealth and fortune. Instead they strayed after idols and abominable activities.

    Even from this poetic – essentially non-halachic context, we learn things of a halachic nature. Because the Torah uses the expression: To suckle honey from a rock, we are taught that honey has the status in halacha of a liquid. Because of its unique physical proper ties, honey might have been considered as a solid food rather than a drink.

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