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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach




Deuteronomy – 32:1-52 from 17 September till 23 September

וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן תִּֽהְיֶה־לִּ֜י הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את לְעֵ֖ד בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל

And now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness for the children of Israel. (Deutr. 31:19)

This verse serves as a foundation for the 613th mitzvah for Jews to write a Torah scroll. Although Rashi[1], among others, understands this verse to mean only writing down this poem/song. But the Rambam[2] says, that although the word “song” relates to Ha’azinu, it must apply to a full Torah scroll because it is forbidden to write only a portion of the Torah on a scroll. It can also be stated that writing the Torah is an obligation because this poem/song is in the Torah. It demonstrates the importance of this poem/song, which invites the question, “What makes it so important?”

Another question that arises is why this is called a poem/song at all. When you think of a song, you think of something upbeat, yet much of Ha’azinu is about the people’s faults – to the point where G-d conceals His face for them- and the plagues and sufferings that afflict them.

When we think of songs, we instantaneously think of the Psalms. Throughout the week, the Levites sang six distinct Psalms in the Temple. Monday through Friday, these are Psalms 24, 48, 82, 94, 81, and 93 (Psalm 81 is often replaced by Psalm 112).

I’d always puzzled why there wasn’t a Psalm for Shabbat. Was there no singing then? I was even more perplexed when I heard last week that the Levites in the Temple sang 1/6 part of the Ha’azinu on Shabbat.

This emphasizes the significance of the song; but, on Shabbat, a Jew is expected to be cheerful and happy, and reading 1/6 of the Ha’azinu it might create a lot of melancholy due to the misery being sung.

As an example, I’ll use Sunday from the Kehot Chamush.

Day of the WeekPsalm of the DayTheme of Psalm of the DaySegment of Ha’azinu PoemTheme of Segment of Ha’azinu Poem
Wednesday“G-d is a G-d of vengeance…”G-d created the heavenly bodies, potential objects of idolatry, and punishes idolatersDeuteronomy 32:19-28 “When G-d saw this, He was disgusted…He said, ‘I will hide My face from them.’”G-d punished the Jewish people for their sins.

The weekly Psalms, which correspond to the six days of creation, are about G-d’s relationship with creation. G-d’s relationship with the Jewish people is the subject of Ha’azinu.

Looking at the first verse of the Tenach, we see: “In the beginning G-d created Heaven and Earth.”

Rashi quotes a Midrash on this line that claims the world was created …for the Jewish people, who are also known as “Rayshis – the beginning” (Jeremiah 2:3).

How should we interpret this?

The answer, in my opinion, may be found in Pirkei Avot 1:2, which states:

The world stands upon three things – upon Torah, upon divine service, and upon acts of kindness. (Avot 1:2)

In Hebrew, the word for “world” is “olam,” which is related to the term “he’elem,” which means “concealment.” The world was designed in such a way that G-dliness is hidden and buried inside it. Only by lifting the veil may the light of G-dliness hidden inside it be revealed. The Jewish People has the mission and obligation to remove concealment through there service to G-d.[3]

The term “firsts” implies that there will be successors. As a result, the first ones should be looked at. What happened to these people? That is precisely what we read in the Ha’azinu.

For it does not end with punishments. At the end of the poem, we read that G-d comfort His people the enemies of the Jewish people, the enemies of G-d will be divided. All the difficulties were merely a way to bring the people to Redemption, the Time of Messiah.

Because it doesn’t end with punishment. G-d comforts His people, we read at the end of the passage. The enemies of the Jewish people, and hence G-d, will be defeated. Looking back over the years, the people realize that all that has happened to them has contributed to their redemption.

The people have stayed devoted to their G-d in all eras and under all circumstances. As a result, G-d appears in the world. People all across the world will recognize this faithfulness and come to recognize G-d as the one and only G-d, the Creator of heaven and earth. They will kneel and confess with their mouths that there is only one G-d[4].

So, in a nutshell, Ha’azinu is the entire Torah. It begins with the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1 and ends with all people of the world acceptance of their Creator.

When we experience hardships and challenges in our daily lives, it is not always simple to maintain entire trust in G-d.

The Jewish people were instructed, among other things, to memorize these words by writing them on a Torah scroll. Noahides can boost their faith in G-d by reflecting on G-d’s fidelity to His people. It reminds me of Psalm 67:

Then, despite the suffering and difficulties we face in life, our knowledge of how much we love Him will grow, with the realization that everything is preparing us for final salvation.

For the leader; with instrumental music. A psalm. A song.

May G-d be gracious to us (the Jewish People) and bless us;
may He show us favor, selah

that Your way be known on earth,
Your deliverance among all nations.

Peoples (of all nations) will praise You, O G-d;
all peoples will praise You.

Nations will exult and shout for joy,
for You rule the peoples with equity,
You guide the nations of the earth. Selah.

The peoples will praise You, O G-d;
all peoples will praise You.

May the earth yield its produce;
may G-d, our G-d, bless us.

May G-d bless us,
and be revered to the ends of the earth.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] את השירה הזאת [NOW THEREFORE WRITE YE] THIS SONG — i.e. the text “Give ear, O ye heavens”, till “and make expiation for his ground, and his people” (Deuteronomy 32:1—43).
[2] Laws of Sefer Torah 7:1.
[3] Chabad Article: 1:2 World’s 3 Pillars
[4] Aleinu Prayer
Kehot Chumash Ha’azinu


נתיבות שלום

With thanks to B. Yaniger for the inspiration

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