Aliya-by-Aliya Parshat Ha'azinu 5759

[Numbers] are mitzvot in Sefer HaChinuch

KOHEN - First Aliya - 6 p'sukim (32:1-6)

Moshe Rabeinu begins his farewell "song" to the People by calling upon the heavens and the earth to be witnesses to what he will be saying. He asks the people (in a very poetic way) to listen well to his words. Moshe tells us that G-d is completely fair and just; it is we who are responsible for "messing things up".

Mitzva Watch

"When I (singluar) call G-d's Name, you (plural, minimum 2) praise G-d for His Greatness." From this pasuk we learn that when three people eat together, one calls to the othertwo to "bless G-d" - BIRKAT HAZIMUN (a.k.a. benching m'zuman).

We also learn from this pasuk that we answer BARUCH HU U'VARUCH SH'MO when we hear G-d's name in a bracha (unless there is a halachic reason for not "interrupting").

From here, says the Gemara, we learn the mitzva of saying a bracha before learning Torah. (It is also derived logically from Birkat HaMazon.)

Others learn from here (together with its context) that we should pray to G-d when there is a lack of rain.

And, that we have brachot for different kinds of foods, rather than one catch-all bracha.

This versatile pasuk is used to introduce the Musaf, Mincha, and Ne'ila Amida.


The Baal HaTurim notes that the numeric value of HASHAMAYIM VA'ADABEIRA (let the HEAVENS hear AND I WILL SPEAK) is 5+300+40+10 +40 = 395 and 6+1+4+2+200+5 = 218. 395+218 = 613, as if Moshe was saying "Listen to the 613 mitzvot."

LEVI - Second Aliya - 6 p'sukim (32:7-12)

Moshe asks us once again to remember the "early history" of this unique nation of Israel and the special ancestors whoestablished for us our close relationship with G-d.

There is no generation gap in real Jewish life; the older generation teaches the new one, the new generation gains by asking questions of their elders and learning from them.

G-d structured the world in parallel to the developing nation of Israel, and granted us special protection and guidance -"like an eagle protects its young..."

Rashi mentions several ways that eagles be have towards their offspring for their benefit. Apparently, eagles are extremely protective, and they do many things meant to prepare their fledglings for their adult lives, as well. The Torah's analogy is thus very appropriate.

SH'LISHI - Third Aliya - 6 p'sukim (32:13-18)

Notwithstanding the protection and nurturing that G-d provided us in the Wilderness, we rebelled. This happened and continues to happen. Moshe's words can be seen as a description of Dor HaMidbar as well as being a poetic prophecy of the people becoming too complacent in Eretz Yisrael and abandoning G-d from their positions of opulence and security.

Even from this poetic - essentially non- halachic context, we learn things of a halachic nature. Because the Torah uses the expression: To suckle honey from a rock, we are taught that honey has the status in halacha of a liquid. Becase of its unique physical proper ties, honey might have been considered as a solid food rather than a drink.

R'VI'I - Fourth Aliya - 10 p'sukim (32:19-28)

Much of the content of Haazinu is a poetic formulation of ideas previously presented in the book of D'varim.

Moshe tells us that G-d's reaction to our disloyalty is HESTEIR PANIM - the hiding of "G-d's Face", so to speak.

He also tell us that there have been several times where

G-d had wanted to destroy the People of Israel but did not, so as not to give the nations of the world cause to doubt the power of the "G-d of Israel".

The Gemara, in a play on words, tells us that the concept of Hester Panim is personified in Esther, who lived in exile and at a time that G-d chose not to reveal himself in open ways and generally operates through nature.

General comment about Haazinu:

There are many words in this sedra that appear nowhere else in the Torah (or in the whole Tanach). As a result, there is more than usual speculation among commentators as to the exact meanings of some of the words.

CHAMISHI - Fifth Aliya - 11 p'sukim (32:29-39)

Our challenge is to contemplate the above and understand the many lessons contained in G-d's (and Moshe's) words. The bottom line is that although Israel strays from the proper path, G-d will not abandon us, and He will rally to our side in the face of our enemies. If we would only realize this and appreciate the awesome power of G-d.

Mitzva Watch

Pasuk 32:38 refers to idolatrous sacrifices and their wine of libation. The Rambam sites this pasuk as the source for the prohibition of YAYIN NESSECH, sacramental wine. The Chinuch in cludes this prohibition with the one against benefitting from food con secrated to another religion.

This is the only mitzva that the Rambam counts among the 613 that the Sefer HaChinuch does not. (In order to keep the number 613 in balance, there is one example of vice versa.)

The rabbinic ban on STAM YEINAM (lit. their wine, non-Jewish wine) is partially inspired by this prohibition of Yayin Nessech. There are other factors, such as the limiting of social contact between Jew and non-Jew, that input into the rabbinic ban of Stam Yeinam.

SHISHI - Sixth Aliya - 4 p'sukim (32:40-43)

In this concluding portion of the song portion of Haazinu, Moshe assures us of G-d's eternal nature and His promise to avenge Israel against the other nations.

The sedra until this point is written (in a Torah scroll) in an unusual manner. This is a Tradition passed down through the generations from scribe to scribe. The only other portion of the Torah to be written differently from the rest of the Torah (and different from Haazinu as well) is the Song of the Sea in B'shalach. Suffice it here to say, that the poetic form of these two Songs leaves room for all sorts of drash and interpretation. The blank spaces are considered to contain hidden mystical messages, sort of like reading between the lines.

SH'VI'I - Seventh Aliya - 9 p'sukim (32:44-52)

Moshe, in front of Yehoshua, tells the people to heed the warning of this SHIRA and to keep the Torah, which in turn, will keep them.

An important point that has been oft- repeated in the book of D'varim is this: We did not receive the Land of Israel with no strings attached. We must always be worthy of holding onto Eretz Yisrael

G-d then tells Moshe to ascend Har Aravim-Nevo, see the Land from there, and die there, as Aharon had done earlier (the Torah reiterates the reason that both Moshe and Aharon couldn't enter E. Yisrael), rather than enter the Land which the People of Israel will enter.

The last 5 p'sukim are repeated for the Maftir.

HAFTARA - 51 p'sukim Shmuel bet 22:1-51

This Haftara for Ha'azinu is read only when there is a Shabbat between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. When there is not, Haazinu is Shabbat Shuva and gets the Haftara of Shuva Yisrael. This year with Rosh HaShana on a Monday, there IS a Shabbat between YK and Sukkot, and Haazinu is it. This occurs 39.5% of the time. This Haftara is also read on the seventh day of Pesach.

There are two SHIRAs in the Torah and two in the N'vi'im. The ones from the Navi serve as Haftaras for the ones in the Torah. B'shalach gets Devorah's song from Sho'f'tim and Haazinu gets David's from Shmuel bet. B'shalach's song is read on the 7th day of Pesach and this Haftara is used. Both songs from the Navi are written in scrolls like AZ YASHIR. Haazinu's format remains unique.

Its 51 p'sukim, make it one of the longest Haftaras, second only to Devorah's song (one pasuk shorter). It has the same number of p'sukim as Maftir Yona from Yom Kippur afternoon. Most noteworthy is the fact that Haazinu has only 52 p'sukim. Of course, Maftir Yona is attached to an even smaller Torah reading.

David is singing his song in thanks to G-d for His deliverence of David from the hands of his enemies and from the hands of Shaul. Aside from the obvious SHIRA- SHIRA connection, there are several parallels to be found in the text.

And perhaps the joy David HaMelech finds in his relationship with G-d is appropriate for all of us having done battle with sin and the Yeitzer HaRa and hopefully having succeeded on Yom Kippur to realize that we share that same relationship with HaShem. This Haftara is a beautiful transition from the Yamim Nora'im to Zman Simchateinu.