Parasha Inspiration – Ha’Azinu

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ שִׂ֣ימוּ לְבַבְכֶ֔ם לְכָ֨ל־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָֽנֹכִ֛י מֵעִ֥יד בָּכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר תְּצַוֻּם֙ אֶת־בְּנֵיכֶ֔ם לִשְׁמֹ֣ר לַֽעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת: כִּי לֹֽא־דָבָ֨ר רֵ֥ק הוּא֙ מִכֶּ֔ם כִּי־ה֖וּא חַיֵּיכֶ֑ם וּבַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה תַּֽאֲרִ֤יכוּ יָמִים֙ עַל־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אַתֶּ֜ם עֹֽבְרִ֧ים אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֛ן שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ:

And he said to them, “Set your hearts to all of the words which I bear witness for you this day, so that you may command your children to observe to do all the words of this Torah. For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land to which you are crossing over the Jordan, to possess it.

Deuteronomy 32:46-47

This week’s parsha culminates the message of Moses to the children of Israel before they enter the land of the promise. At the end of the portion, Hashem brings Moses to the top of the mountain so that he can see all of the land that is given to the children of Israel, but he may not enter it.

The song of Moses is a summary of how Israel turns away from Hashem, Hashem hides his face, Israel turns back to Hashem, and Hashem destroys Israel’s enemies. This is the sequence of events that will take place, so Moses entreats Israel to follow Torah.

Ha’azinu is always read on Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called the Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe. We consider the judgment of Hashem, His sovereignty as King of the universe, Israel’s behavior, and consequently our own behavior as part of Israel or the Commonwealth of Israel. Moses reminds us that Torah is not an empty thing for us, Torah is our life.

Moses writes two songs that are recorded in Torah. The Song of the Sea, and the Song of Moses. These two songs could not be more different. The Song at the Sea is a praise hymn thanking God for everything he has done to liberate us from Egypt. The Song of Moses is a relating the history, past and future, of Israel’s failure and Hashem’s ultimate grace. As we read one the songs, it is impossible not think of the other. As we read the song of Moses, we think of everything that Hashem has done for us and our freedom, yet, we see our failure as a nation. However, no matter our failure, we will be redeemed through Hashem’s grace and mercy.

This is the ultimate message of redemption. This is the message of Yeshua the Messiah. No matter our failures, Hashem will save us. It is a continuous cycle in history that we fail and Hashem saves. So, what are we to do? What is the real lesson of Shabbat Shuva? Love Hashem and love each other. In these days of isolation, remember we are part of a people. Understand and acknowledge. Be part of the Commonwealth of Israel. Love Hashem and love each other. Follow Torah, for it is our life.

Shabbat shalom and l’shana tova.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.