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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu 5773

Parashat Hashavua: Farewell Song

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul pp. 550-551

Once again we will hear the eternal song of Haazinu, bursting forth from the ancient Torah scrolls, and the ear will never be tired of hearing it. Again we will we accept with feelings of embarrassment and guilt the echo of the testimony of the two important witnesses, the heavens and the earth, who witnessed the conditions spelled out in the song. They heard the balance between blessing and curses and have seen our behavior over the generations.

Slowly the parchment is disappearing from the left-side pillar of the Torah as we reach the end of the Torah and the description of the end of the life of Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest prophet in the history of our nation. As we read the parshiyot of his parting from the nation, we see that it is not the matter of the end of his life that concerned him, but the knowledge that he did not complete his life mission. The Land to which he strove to lead the nation and which now was laid out before him to see he would not be able to enter. “For from the opposite side you will see the Land and there you will not go to the Land that I am giving to Bnei Yisrael” (Devarim 32:52).

It is with a heavy heart that he takes leave of his flock. He knows that great tests stand before them. The contact with the people of the Land can cause them to stumble and learn the ways of people who bow down to man-made idols. It is enticing to accept a worship that does not ask of man to sanctify himself in everything he does in life. Moshe can picture how everything he worked to achieve in regard to the people’s behavior could be lost, how the people could forget their potential and their role and turn into a nation like any other. That which Moshe would be unable to continue in deed, he tried to accomplish with words, and thus left the people with a final prophecy that they would remember for all generations: the song of Haazinu.

When were these words said? It seems like it was just yesterday. They are so fresh and so reliable. It is as if a mouth was given to history itself, telling us what would happen. It seems to blur the separation of time and shows the future with the confidence of one telling about the past.  We hear prophecies such as “Israel became fat and kicked” (ibid. 15), and the historical parallels to the times of the kings and the later prophets flash before us. The words reverberate during those times but they are not always able to succeed in returning the people to the right path.  The p’sukim that tell of future destruction thunder in the ears of all, as chained captives went out to exile.

On the other hand, words of encouragement and consolation are also present, helping us to constantly keep our eyes looking forward with a spark of hope and anticipation for the end of days. Even if it has taken longer than we would like, the days will certainly come. “The nations will sing the praise of His nation, for He shall avenge the blood of His servants, and He will return retribution upon His oppressors, and He will appease His Land and His nation” (Devarim 32:43).

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