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

When poetically describing the Jews’ rebelling against G-d, Moshe says, “And Yeshurun became fat and kicked [rebelled]…” (32:15). Why are the Jews called “Yeshurun,” and what does it mean that they became fat?

Rav S. R. Hirsch suggests that the Jews are called “Yeshurun” because its root is “Yashar,” or “straight.” This name symbolizes the idea that people think they are doing the right thing even while forsaking their responsibilities and heritage. Instead of using their G-d-given gifts to do good, they hoard them and become “fat” with resources. Taking the symbolism in the passuk one step further, we can understand why the word “kicked” is used to refer to the people’s rebelling; legs that are meant to move forward are instead used to kick away opportunities or resources to do good. The symbolism is vivid as it is poignant – when we are given gifts, rather than hoard them for ourselves, we are meant to use them to help others and spread kindness.