Aliya-by-Aliya Parashat Ha'azinu 5760

Numbers in [brackets] are the mitzva-count according to the Sefer HaChinuch. Other counts vary.

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 other two to "bless G-d" - BIRKAT HAZIMUN (a.k.a. benching m'zuman).

We also learn from this pasuk that we say 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. (Some derive this mitzva from the mitzva of 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.

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 who established 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 different special ways that eagles behave towards their offspring, to protect them, to treat them with tender kindness, and 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 positionsof 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. Because of its unique physical properties, honey might have been considered as a solid food ratherthan 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".

G-d said SALACHTI K'D'VARECHA. Some "darshen" the phrase to mean that G-d will forgive according to our words. How we ask.

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.

Here's a thought: This is the second time a strong message about HESTER PANIM is being presented. Dor HaMidbar knows G-d through open miracles that He has performed since they were in Egypt. They have never experienced the hidden, quiet side of G-d, so to speak. The existence of Hester Panim must be part of their educationnow, so that future generations will be able to cope with a less obvious and open G-d. Otherwise, they would be absolutely devastated when open miracles recede.

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 awesomepower 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 includes this prohibition with the one against benefiting from food consecrated 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 HAS to be one case of vice versa. There is.)

The rabbinic ban on STAM YEINAM (lit. their wine, non-Jewish wine) is partially inspired by this prohibition of Yayin Nesech. 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.

We say in each AMIDA that G-d gave us Yom Kippur B'AHAVA, with love. T'shuva itself is a great gift from G-d, but the establishment of a special time of the year, culminating in the special Day of Atonement is truly a gesture of love by G-d. Our human nature, which He obviously knows so well, needs a focus. And that iswhat Yom Kippur is, among other things.

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.

It is said in the name of the ARI Z"L that each day of Aseret Y'mei T'shuva (not counting RH and YK, there are always exactly 7 days) is a model and repair-day for that same day of the week throughout the year. Therefore, Shabbat Shuva will set the tone for all of our Shabbatot. It behooves us to make our Shabbat Shuvaoutstanding in all respects: Proper abstention from all prohibitions and possible prohibitions, as well as enthusiastic fulfillment of all the positive aspects. Special davening, good learning, joyous Zmirot, generous meals... and more.

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. This has applied throughout our history and is no less significant a point today. We will keep this Land if we deserve to keepit.

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.

There seem to be different traditions as to how to break up the Aliyot in Haazinu. Don't know much about the dispute, but in case your shul's Aliyot don't match the ones in Torah Tidbits, you have been tipped off in advance.

HA'AZINU has a split personality as far as Haftara is concerned. Remember that this sedra is sometimes SHABBAT SHUVA (as it is this year and anytime Rosh HaShana is THU or SHABBAT), and sometimes between Yom Kippur and Sukkot (such a Shabbat exists when Rosh HaShana is MON or TUE).

And when Ha'azinu is Shabbat Shuva, there are different customs as to what is to be read for the Haftara.

Haftara 22 p'sukim - 9 from Hoshea 14:2-10; 13 from Yoel 2:15-27

Some add another 3 p'sukim, Micha 7:18-20, between the portions from Hoshea and Yoel. Lu'ach Eretz Yisrael says not to say those p'sukim. It is likely that you will hear them anyway. It is highly unusual to have a reading with skipping around. On the other hand, Hoshea and Yoel (and Micha) are all from TREI ASAR, whichis considered as a single book of Tanach.

The choice of the Haftara for this Shabbat is less a function of the sedra and more a function of the position of this Shabbat between Rosh HaShana and yom Kippur. Yet Haazinu speaks strongly of unfaithfulness to G-d, and the Haftara addresses the topic of Repentance. SHUVA YISRA'EL AD HASHEM... These opening words of theHaftara give the Shabbat its name and basically say it all. Return to G-d. The next pasuk emphasizes the power of Prayer in the T'shuva process. The command to repent is accompanied by wonderful promises (prophecies) of redemption and restoration of the former Glory of Israel.

The passage from Yoel gives us the Shofar connection to the T'shuva process. Another encouraging note as we face the task of returning to G-d is His assurance that He is among us - even before our T'shuva, and that He will not shame His people ever.