Ha’azinu – Perasha Synopsis

Perasha Ha’azinu, begins with a poetic song delivered by Moshe. The song is a prophecy of what will transpire to the Jews – the good and the bad – until the end of times.

Moshe begins by calling on heavens and earth, as constant part of creation, to be witnesses to the words which he will now say. Moshe declares, much as rain and dew are to vegetation, so to his words are life to this world. G‑d is entirely righteous and just, always good, always compassionate and forgiving. Therefore, all corruption and ill-fated decisions and actions stem from His children, who are thankless and lack the wisdom to recognize the source of all their blessing.

Moshe exhorted the Israelites to contemplate and remember their history.  G-d allocated the nations their homeland and their due, but chose the Israelites as G-d’s own people, from among all other nations to be nurtured, and given their own land. G-d found the Israelites in the wilderness, watched over them, guarded them, enveloped and protected them like an eagle who tenderly cares and rouses her nestlings, gliding down to her young.

Moshe continues speaking of the Israelites’ future. G‑d settled them in the Land of Israel, the “peak of the earth”, atop the high lands to feast on the yield of the earth, the choicest produce, fruit and cattle; and fed them honey, oil, milk, lamb, wheat and wine. He provided them with their every need! Unfortunately, humankind’s tendency is to forget the degree of their dependency upon G-d and to create the illusion of self-sufficiency and independence. Therefore, Israel “became fat and rebelled,” and abandoned the G‑d that made them and provided them with all their wealth and fortune. Instead they strayed after alien things, idols and abominable activities.

G‑d saw, was vexed and became incensed by His children’s behavior. He will hide His countenance from them, and send upon them invading armies, wild beasts, plagues, demons, and famine. He will then, castigate them with exile and persecution, chased from their land and sold into slavery. G-d might have reduced them to nothing, made their memory cease among people, except for fear of the taunts of their enemies, who might misjudge and take credit for Israel’s demise, and conclude that their own hand had prevailed and not G-d’s. For Israel’s enemies are void of sense, lacking in discernment.

If the nations were wise they would have understood that no nation could experience such utter devastation unless G‑d had completely abandoned them and delivered them to their enemies. G-d wished also, that the Israelites were wise, then they would think about this, and gain insight into their future, for they would recognize that one could not have routed a thousand unless G-d had given them over. Rather, the Israelites’ desolation came as a result of their actions, which resembled those of Sodom and Gomorrah, actions which G‑d recorded from the start.

However, the time will then come when G‑d will have mercy on His people. The other nations will fail in the very same manner that the Israelites did. They will assume that their ability to enslave the Chosen People and ravage Israel is proof of G-d’s impotence and their own prowess and strength. Therefore, they will be penalized and destroyed and the Chosen People will again recognize G-d’s primacy and control. At that point, He will ask the Israelites to note that all the gods which they had patronized were unable to help them when He unleashed His punishments against them, for only G‑d has the ability to wound and heal, cause death and give life.

Then G‑d will turn His attention against Israel’s oppressors. At that time, when G‑d will avenge the blood of His servants, the nations of the world will sing the praises of Israel together with the Jewish people singing forth their acceptance and understanding of Divine purpose and justice.

Moshe and Joshua presents and teach the entire “song” to the nation and reemphasizes that the condition for keeping the Land is adherence to Torah and the Commandments.  Moshe implores the people to take his warnings to heart and charge them upon their children, for it was not a trifling thing but their very life at stake.  G‑d then tells Moses to climb up Mount Nebo, from where he will view the land of Israel from afar before he passes away; the land that He will give the Children of Israel.

 

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