Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dvar Torah for Parshas Haazinu (Prep for Succos)

       This week’s parshah, Parshas Haazinu, is in fact a song. Over the last few parshahs, Bnei Yisrael have accepted the yoke of Torah upon themselves and learned what will happen to them if they do not keep it as well as the concept of Teshuvah if they should go astray. In this week’s parshah, Moshe sings this song to the nation which, in poetic form, weaves together all these concepts in one final lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu. Because of the poetic form, this parshah is very difficult to comprehend, but thanks to the commentary of Rashi, we can begin to make sense of it.
       The first pasuk in the parshah says, “הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי פִי“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth”. (Devarim 32:1) Rashi explains that the heaven and earth will be the witnesses to Bnei Yisrael having received Moshe’s warning if they do go against the Torah. Rashi gives two reasons why specifically the sky and the land. First, the fact that these two elements of creation are everlasting makes them the perfect witnesses. If Bnei Yisrael don’t keep the Torah, even though Moshe or anyone else from that generation will not be around to testify against them, the earth and sky will be. Secondly, they are the perfect witnesses since not only can they testify against Bnei Yisrael, they can carry out the sentence! If Bnei Yisrael are deserving, the sky will give rain and the earth will give crops. However, if they are not keeping the Torah, then the opposite will occur.
       The Kli Yakar asks, how are these two different reasons? Can the sky and the earth actually give testimony? Obviously their testimony will be given by their actions (i.e. that they will either produce or not produce), meaning that our two reasons are one and the same!
       He answers using a gemarah in Shabbos (88A) which asks, why is there an extra letter “ה” in the pasuk of “ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום הששי“And it was evening and it was morning, the Sixth Day”, in Parshas Bereishis (1:31)? Grammatically, the letter “ה” adds an extra significance to a word, so why is it needed here to tell us about the sixth day of creation? The gemarah answers that it teaches us that in the future, the sixth day of the month of Sivan (the numerical value of the letter “ה” is five) will be of special significance. On that day, Bnei Yisrael will decide whether or not to accept the Torah, and if they choose not to, then the world will cease to exist at that moment.
       This, says the Kli Yakar, is Rashi’s first answer. When Rashi says that the heaven and earth are everlasting, he means to say that the fact they are still in existence proves that Bnei Yisrael are still keeping the Torah! If we were not keeping the Torah, the world would have ceased to exist! So in reality, they are the best witness as the fact that they are around to even give testimony, is testimony that we are keeping the Torah.
       This connection of heaven and earth through Torah can help us understand the next pasuk in the parshah as well. The connection itself is simple; the sky represents God and spirituality while the ground represents mortal man and physicality. Each aspect has no place in the opposite’s territory. But through learning and practicing the Torah, we are able to break free of our physical aspects and connect to the spiritual. Not only that, we are able to bring spirituality to the physical world as well and connect the two sections of heaven and earth together. This explains the next pasuk which says, “…יַעֲרֹף כַּמָּטָר לִקְחִי תִּזַּל כַּטַּל אִמְרָתִי“My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew”. (Devarim 32:2) The lessons mentioned are lessons of Torah. The same way that rain and dew come down from the heavens and cause the earth to flourish, so too does the Torah comes down from Hashem in the heavens and causes the physical earth to grow spiritually.
       This Shabbos comes out between the two holidays of Yom Kippur and Succos. The first is the day we ask forgiveness for our sins and the second is where we enjoy our newly renewed relationship with God. As we prepare for Succos this week, let us remember what this relationship is built on, and let’s try to complete that connection between heaven and earth so that we may fully enjoy the pleasures involved.

Shabbat Shalom!  

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