Friday, October 14, 2016

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

 “Listen heavens and I shall speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.”

This week’s Torah reading of Ha'azinu (Devorim [Deuteronomy] 32: 1-52) begins with the song that Moshe recited to his people on the day of his passing.

The song is poetic, powerful and poignant. After a few introductory verses, there is a description of G‑d’s kindness to the Jewish people:

He found them in a desert land … He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them; He protected them as the pupil of His eye…

The song continues with the prediction that the Jews would eventually turn away from G‑d:

… You began to serve idols that are new; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared…

What follows is a story as sad as Jewish history:

I will link evils upon them. … From outside, the sword will bereave, and terror from within; young men and maidens, suckling babes with venerable elders…

The song closes on a positive note, however, predicting that ultimately, “The nations will cause His [G‑d’s] nation to rejoice, for He will avenge the blood of His servants ... and He will atone His land, His nation.”

This song was sung quite often in the Holy Temple. Every day, while the priests would offer the daily offerings, the Levites would accompany the service with music and songs of praise from King David’s book of Psalms. All of the songs sung were joyous, and were meant to imbue the service with a spirit of joy, in fulfillment of the commandment to “serve the L-rd with joy.” Why these somber words of  Ha'azinu as well? The answer is, when the Levites sang the bitter parts of this song, they were teaching us how to overcome the tragic stanzas of our lives. The Levites were teaching us to be patient as we allow the song to unfold.

We should not expect to wake up each and every day of our lives and hear a joyous song playing in our ears. There will be days when we hear no song, when all we can hear is lamentation. Ultimately, we will persist, and we will find the joy. We will then realize that the difficult part of the road is just that, a road to a deeper and more meaningful joy.

The Torah portion of Haazinu is always read in the month of the holidays, in the month that contains both the days of awe, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well as the days of joy, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. In the beginning of the month we face the pain created by our weakness. We think about the pain of separation from G‑d and from the people we sinned against. In the days of awe, we overcome the pain, we return, we reconnect. And then we realize that our relationship with G‑d is deeper and stronger than we imagined; our bond with G‑d is unbreakable. That no matter how much pain we caused, no matter how far we tried to run, He has been waiting for us - waiting for us to return and to embrace us.

We discover that the intense joy of Sukkot and Simchat Torah is possible only after we experience the days of awe. We discover that all parts of the journey are integral to the intense joy. We discover that they are all part of the same song.

No matter what life brings us, we remember that we are in the middle of a song. If we keep singing, keep playing the notes, we will discover the music. We will discover that there was music all along.

(Excerpts from - by Rabbi Menachem Feldman)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!!

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