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Home » Ha'azinu

Ha’azinu – Food for Thought for Your Dinner Table

Submitted by on October 5, 2008 – 2:05 amNo Comment | 6,469 views

Sunday: Rain and Dew

“May my teachings flow like rain, my words like dew.” Rain is formed from vapor that rises from earth and after condensing precipitates back to earth. Dew forms spontaneously here on earth when warmer surfaces contact the cooler atmosphere. Rain thus symbolizes the flow of G-d’s blessing that is stimulated by our mitzvah observance here on earth whereas dew symbolizes spontaneous blessing that transcends all earthly considerations and is granted to all, irrespective of behavior.

The high holidays offer both forms of blessing. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are celebrated in the Synagogue. Those who don’t pray, listen to the Shofar or fast cannot partake in these holidays. Sukkot is celebrated outdoors where all pedestrians have equal access. The arrogant and the humble, the righteous and the wicked are equally welcome in the Sukkah. When we sit together, as one family, G-d directs his blessing to the entire nation, both those who observe and those who do not. Likutei Torah

Monday: The Other End

“The lord’s portion is His nation, Jacob, the strand of His inheritance.” This verse implies that there is a strand or rope that binds the Jew with G-d, as if there were a rope tied to our soul on one end and to G-d on the other.  If one should tug on one end of a rope, the tremor would travel across the length of the rope and be felt on the other end. So too is it with G-d and Israel. When we repent for our sins and return to G-d, we stimulate a tremor that travels across the gulf that our sins have formed between ourselves and G-d and registers in epic proportions on G-d’s end. Conversely, when G-d tugs on His end of the rope in an effort to arouse us from our spiritual slumber we too feel the tremor and are stimulated in ways we don’t understand to return to our father in heaven. Tanya

Tuesday: Content and Lazy

“Yeshurun grew fat and kicked.” The root of the name Yeshurun is Yashar, upright, which refers to the righteous of our people. Indeed, even the righteous are vulnerable to trials of prosperity. It is difficult to remain focused and devoted when leading a life of prosperity because decadence is the handmaiden of luxury. By contrast, trials of poverty are easier to overcome because poverty tends to focus the mind toward discipline and dedication. Sifsei Chachamim

Wednesday: Hidden Blessings

“I shall expend my arrows against them.” Rashi explains that this is a hidden blessing. Though G-d will direct his arrows against us, his arrows will be expended, but we, his children, will never expire; we will survive our tribulations.
Hebrew letters have numeric value. The numeric value of the Hebrew word Chetz, which means arrow, is ninety-eight, precisely the number of punishments promised us in the event that we turn from the Torah. The Midrash relates that our ancestors worried that they would not survive the ninety-eight punishments, but Moshe promised that they would survive everything history would throw at them. This is the hidden meaning of the verse, “My arrows I shall expend,” Chetz, arrow in Hebrew, carries a numeric value of ninety-eight. The verse thus reads, my ninety-eight punishments will be expended, but you, my children, shall never become extinct. Divrei Moshe

Thursday: We will Survive

“For G-d will judge his nation and relent regarding his servants for the power has gone forth and none are saved or assisted.” The conventional understanding of this verse is that G-d saves the righteous, his servants, when he sees that the power of our enemies is unrestrained.

The following is a slightly more poetic translation: G-d “relents” on the nation’s collective punishment when He sees that the innocent, “his servants,” suffer alongside the guilty. He saves the sinners along with the righteous because ‘his servants,” due to their suffering, are unable to restrain those who sin. The “power” of the righteous has expired or “gone forth,” incapable of “saving or assisting” the sinner. Thus the sinners are without guilt and are absolved from punishment. Or Hachayim

Friday: Justice

“O’ Nations, Sing the praises of his people, for the blood of His servants He shall avenge.”  This verse refers to the following Talmudic dictum. When Moshiach will come, the nations of the world will line up to sing our praises and to profess their undying love for us. G-d will ask them why they have committed unspeakable crimes against us, His children, over the years, but they will attempt to deny their crimes. G-d will then present irrefutable evidence of their crimes and, despite their change of heart, avenge the blood of his servants. Justice will thus be carried out. Daas Zekeinim

Shabbat: Empty Within

“For [the Torah] is not empty within you.” The conventional understanding of this verse is that study and observance of Torah is not without reward. Another way to understand the verse is that the Torah itself is not empty. People often complain that certain Mitzvos are empty, without reason or meaning. They reject the idea that a Mitzvah should be observed purely for the sake of obeying G-d. To their minds, service to G-d, in and of itself, is empty, devoid of meaning.

The Torah assures us that G-d’s commandments are filled with meaning. In fact their meaning is so exalted and hallowed, that the human mind is incapable of grasping it. It is folly to deny ourselves this profound meaning only because our minds are too small to grasp it. It is true that many do not sense this meaning and feel that the commandments are empty, but here the Torah assures us that such emptiness stems, not from the commandments, but from us. It is because we have failed to nurture the spiritual kernel within us that we are oblivious to the vibes of the sublime and the sacred. When we fill our own void, we immediately sense that rather than empty, G-d’s commandments are truly meaningful. Chafetz Chayim