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Ha'azinu

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 0
Some count the mitzvah of Yayin Nesech (Sacramental wine) from this Parsha.

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 52

NUMBER OF WORDS: 614

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 2326

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
שובה ישראל "Shuva Yisroel" – Hoshea / Hosea: 14:2-10; then we conclude with Yoel / Joel 2:11-27 (some add verses 7:18-20 from Micah).

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is called שבת שובה - Shabbat Shuva (Lit. 'Shabbat of Return';) because the Haftorah which is read on this Shabbat begins with the words שובה ישראל Shuva Yisroel, (Repent O' Israel). Others call it Shabbat Teshuva (Repentance), as it falls in the Aseret Ymay Teshuva, (Ten Days of Repentance).
It is customary for the Rabbi of the Congregation to give a sermon on this Shabbat which includes the basic laws of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and devoted to the theme of Teshuva and hopefully awaken and inspire people to correct their ways with Teshuva.


Yom Kippur starts Friday Eve, September 29.
Sukkot starts Wednesday Eve, October 4.
פרשת האזינו
THE
PARSHA

Ha'azinu

“HURRY! HURRY! HEAR ALL ABOUT IT!

PACT BETWEEN HASHEM
AND BNEI YISROEL RENEWED!

MOSHE TO SING ABOUT IT TODAY
ON LAST DAY OF HIS LIFE

TWO TO
WITNESS

Moshe calls on Heaven and Earth to witness his song. Moshe wants to warn Bnei Yisroel about committing sins. It takes two witnesses to bust a sinner. The only two witnesses that will last long enough are Heaven and Earth. Any time a Jew thinks of doing an Aveira (sin), he just has to look around at the sky or the ground to remember that he is being watched by two valid witnesses.

If a Jew sins, Heaven and Earth themselves will exact the punishment. The Heavens will hold back rain and cause drought. From the Earth, stones will be lifted and thrown at the sinner when the punishment of “Skilah” (stoning) is decreed by Bait Din. The Earth will also dry up so no produce will grow.


THE
TORAH
LIKE
THE
RAIN

Moshe compares the teaching of Torah to rain that drips, and dew that flows in the morning. He continues to compare Torah to rain storms and showers that patter on the grass. Just as there is no life on earth without rain, there can be no existence without Torah. Rain makes plants grow; Torah makes a person grow spiritually.

FOUR
LETTER
FOLLOW-UP

Hashem is called by lots of names in the Torah. In the song “Ha’azinu” the four letter name reigns supreme. That’s the Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay. (Substitute H for the K). We never sound out this name of Hashem - we don’t even pronounce the letters of the name! Moshe, of course, is on such a high level that he pronounces the four-letter name just like it’s written. Moshe tells the nation that whenever he says the holy name, they should respond with “Amen,” short for “(K)ayl Melech Ne’eman” (Hashem, trustworthy King). We say Amen today whenever we hear someone say a Bracha (blessing). The Talmud tells us that before we learn Torah, we say a Bracha, and when we hear Hashem's name in the Bait Hamikdash, we say, "Boruch Shaym K'vod Malchuso L'olam Va-ed" "Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity."

DON’T
BE
CRUEL

Before Moshe starts his song he wants everyone to know that even though Hashem is going to punish the Jews in the future for their sins, Hashem is not “cruel.” Hashem’s got all the power in the world but He never uses that power to punish a Rasha more than it takes to get Teshuva out of him.

Moshe reminds Bnei Yisroel that he, himself, will never enter Eretz Yisroel as a punishment for hitting the rock. Sometimes it seems like too great a punishment but that’s because our minds aren’t able to comprehend Hashem’s judgment system. It is important to accept punishment in the right spirit - ask yourself why you’re smack in the middle of a round of bad luck:

  • Are your Midot on the up and up?
  • Are you Davening properly?
  • Are you studying Torah like you should?
  • Are you listening to your parents the way you should?
The right answer can sometimes end a drought, so think hard!

START
SINGING

What an intro, but it was worth it! Moshe begins his song and here’s a taste of the lyrics:

When Bnei Yisroel sins, there’s no one to blame but Bnei Yisroel; it doesn’t hurt Hashem, they only hurt themselves. It’s sort of like a sick guy who dumps his medicine when the doctor’s not looking. Who’s he hurting? No one but himself! Like a father, Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim and gave us the Torah. He’s the Creator; He created us to serve Him and learn to love Him through learning His Torah.

Throughout the Torah there are examples of how people brought punishment and destruction upon themselves.

Right from the beginning, the first man blows the gig of a lifetime by tasting the fruit that Chava hands him. Then Adam’s son, Kayin, gets mad and kills his brother Hevel. Even Noach, the lone survivor of a flood that destroys the earth’s population, won’t keep away from the vineyard!

The powerfully spiritual atmosphere in the house of the great Tzadik Avraham, doesn’t stop Yishmael and Lot from getting into trouble! And Yitzchok! Doesn’t he know that Esav is evil? Or did Yitzchak just gloss over the truth? Yaakov, who grows up in a sibling rivalry should know better than to treat one son more favorably than the rest, and Yosef shouldn’t treat his brothers like his servants (even if he has a glimpse of the future.) How about Aharon building the golden calf? Moshe, the greatest of all prophets can speak to Hashem anytime he wants, but can’t speak to a rock properly?

What it all comes down to is choice. For these great Tzadikim of the Torah, mistakes are few and far in between, but it just goes to show that no one’s perfect. Hashem judges us according to our own level. He chooses punishment that will bring us back to do Teshuva. Moshe’s biggest mistake in his whole life is hitting the rock. That’s a real accomplishment for most people. But for Moshe, it is his ticket to dying in the desert. The lesson is that we must be very careful not to turn our backs, even for a moment, from the Torah. It can only hurt us.


KINDNESS
ON THE
DESERT
QUICKWAY

The next part of the Ha’azinu song reminds us of how Hashem is kind to the Bnei Yisroel in the desert. At Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Jews are a sad sack bunch of slaves, not fit to be Hashem’s nation. But Hashem has made a promise to the Avot: - Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov to take their descendants out of bondage and shape them up into a nation. So that’s what Hashem does. He blasts Mitzrayim with ten plagues and "shleps" the Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim by way of sea. Now the Jews are a bunch of ex-slaves in the desert. There are no Egyptians to take the heat for Bnei Yisroel's shortcomings.

And, "oy," do they have shortcomings!

Everything’s a fight! Where do we get food? We need water! We need meat! We need veggies! No “Thank you, Hashem, for freeing us from the bondage.” Still, Hashem shows kindness and patience with the Bnei Yisroel: He provides Mann, the “tastes like anything” miracle food; the well of Miriam follows Bnei Yisroel through the desert for forty years. Slav flies overhead, dropping out of the sky, providing meat for the entire journey. And, of course, we can’t forget how Hashem is willing to give His most precious gift, the Torah, to the Bnei Yisroel after only fifty days of freedom! From the beginning, Hashem surrounds the nation with the "Clouds of Glory" that protects them from their enemies. Nations eventually attack, but a motley crew of Jewish soldiers defeat them with the help of Hashem.


TAKE
COMFORT

The song has a point: Hashem understands us. He knows we have a lot of potential but He also knows that once in a while we will blow the whole deal. It is Hashem’s job to put us back on track. Maybe a plague, maybe a drought, maybe a flat tire will be a good enough reminder of the pact between Hashem and Klal Yisroel - or maybe full blown Galut! (exile).

Hashem promises that when the Jews are exiled from Eretz Yisroel, He will go into Galut with them and bring them back. Don’t worry about the strength of our enemies - Hashem controls that strength and, in the right time, He will make the Jews a mighty nation, once again, to defeat her enemies.

The time will come when, if the Jews haven’t already done teshuva, after all the suffering of galut, that Hashem will gather all the Jews of the world and bring them back to Eretz Yisroel. When the nation is redeemed, the nations of the world will see Hashem’s justice - He can afford to wait for the right moment, but in the end, Hashem remembers His promises and weighs them against the mistakes that the Jews have made.The nations of the world will praise Hashem and the Jewish people who have stayed steadfast to the pact made by Moshe in the desert on the day of his death so long ago.


VINEYARDS
AND
FIELDS
FOREVER

Hashem commands Moshe to climb to the summit of Har (Mt.) Nevo. Although Moshe can never enter Eretz Yisroel, he is treated to a view. He can see across the river Jordan the land he had only dreamed of reaching, a land of milk and honey, promised to Avraham Avinu almost 500 years before. Now that promise is about to be fulfilled and Moshe’s job is done. He is ready to die - or is he?
Tune in next week as Moshe’s final request is fulfilled in the next (and final?) episode of:
Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Ha'azinu


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