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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ha'azinu

Haazinu

Rabbi Dov Berl WeinTishrei 3 5781
19
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Moshe appeals to Heaven and earth to somehow hear his words and bear testimony to the accuracy of his prophecies. Nature does not have a will of its own, but, rather, is bound by the original directions and system created by God when the universe came into being. Unlike human beings who possess free will and can make choices even when those choices are against their own self-interest, nature is unchanging in its acceptance of the will and pattern of its creator.

As a matter of eternal persistence and unending discipline, Moshe calls Heaven and earth – nature itself – to be the witnesses to the covenant between God and Israel, a covenant that will span and survive all centuries of human existence. As nature is unchanging, albeit unpredictable, so too is this covenant between God and Israel: a covenant that is unchanging and unending, even though it has always been unpredictable in its execution and historical perspective.

Though the Jewish people live and survive as an eternal people, in every generation, indeed even every decade, the Jewish nation must chart its own course and make its own decisions regarding its contribution to the perpetuation of the eternal covenant with God.

There is no set formula or procedure guaranteed to achieve this end, except for loyalty to the covenant and that implies the rule of Torah and the implementation of traditional Jewish values in the life and society of every generation.

Moshe, who is the master prophet of all time, sees and realizes the tortuous road that lies ahead for the Jewish people through the millennia. He is sensitive to the fact that there will be times and generations when the people will make a wrong choice and take a painful detour away from the main highway that the Lord has ordained for them. He cautions that we should not be disheartened nor discouraged by mistakes, negligence or even malfeasance.

Such is the nature of human beings, and we are not in any way exempt from general human nature and behavioral patterns. But Moshe points out that there will always be the realization amongst the people of Israel that despite taking a wrong direction, we are completely capable of returning to the path that will lead us to the goal of being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Additionally, in all the events that have occurred, past and present, we can recognize where we have gone wrong and where we can restore ourselves to a correct path and a brighter future. Thus, when Moshe asks Heaven and earth to listen, so to speak, to his words, he is really asking us to pay attention to what he said thousands of years ago. For these are words that are wise and relevant, important and necessary for our times as well. It is no accident that this Torah portion is read and heard on the Sabbath of repentance preceding the holy day of Yom Kippur.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Dov Berl Wein
The rabbi of the "HANASI" congregation in Yerushalim, head of the Destiny foundation, former head of the OU, Rosh Yeshiva of 'sharai Tora" and rabbi of the "Beit Tora" congregation, Monsey, New York.
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