Parasha No. 53 : Haazinu
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32, 1 - 52
by Pr. Rav Yehoshua Rahamim Dipur
based on the books of our Sages
In the image of the heavens and the earth, happiness
stems from the union of “Hashem/Man-adam/Land-adama”
Ve khiper admato amo (Devarim 32, 43).
1. The apex of the Torah
2. Listening as a couple
3. Mosheâ€™s warning
4. The union between Hashem-Man-Land
6. The Shlaâ€™s explanation
8. Mosheâ€™s song
9. We are one entity
10. The commentatorsâ€™ interpretations
11. How to sharpen our awareness of the union with Hashem
12. This union has different forms in one being.
13. The power of the invisible world
14. Fruits develop by stages
15. Are we aiming too high?
16. Exercises for personal development
17. An appeal
1. The apex of the Torah
We are now at the apex of the Torah, and what we are told here is what
is at the heart of the Torah. We shall also be given Mosheâ€™s
last message, and Rashi has taught us, in respect of Yaakovâ€™s
last words, that when one approaches death one has the obligation to
pass on important moral lessons (whether they are pleasing or not).
Thus, what Moshe is about to tell us is extremely important.
With Moshe, our Master, the parasha takes us to the highest spheres
of the Torah and life. This would seem to above our level, but to think
like this is a sign of false humility, for only God decides and knows
what we are capable of. And if He decides that we are capable of reaching
these spheres, we must accept them and study this parasha.
2. Listening as a couple
At first glance, it seems surprising to see that Moshe addresses himself
here, not to man but to the heavens and the earth. The reason for
this is that the essence of man is in the image of the heavens and
the earth and only the truth, and the whole truth, must be told.
Let us read the first verse of the Torah which describes the entire
divine plan, for it is this to which Moshe is referring: “In
the beginning, Elokim created the heavens and the earth, bereshit
bara Elokim et hashamayim ve et haaretz.”
Thus Moshe is asking us to listen, like the heavens and the earth:
Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak (haazinu hashamayim vaadabera)
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth (vetishma haaretz
This means that man should listen in twosome and the Torah itself is
written here in two columns. Manâ€™s life and thought is based
on the couple for this is in the image of the Creator, as is written
in Midrash Devarim Rabba 2, 30:
Everything have I created in couples (hakhol barati zugot)
the heavens and the earth: couples (shamayim vaaretz: zugot)
the sun and the moon: couples (hama va levana: zugot)
man-Adam and woman-Hava: couples (adam ve hava : zugot)
this world and the world to come: couples (ha olam haze ve ha olam
but My honor is one (aval kevodi ehad) as it is said: hear Israel,
Hashem our God, Hashem is ONE.”
Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokenu hashem Ehad
(My photo from Jordan. Here exactly was Moshe
seeing Eretz Israel)
3. Mosheâ€™s warning
Moshe describes the perfection of God and the story of Israelâ€™s
birth as a nation. But men always have the urge to dissociate themselves
from the truth and be destructive; creation to them is no more than “nature,” and
the history of the Jewish people is to them like the history of any
other people, for they view the land of Israel as a land that can be
forgotten, profaned and given to others. This has been so ever since
the time of the meraglim, the spies. Thus “Hashem saw and spurned
because of the provoking of His sons and His daughters” (vayineatz
mikaas banav u venotav, Devarim 32, 19).
Moshe does not mince words: he will no accept any distortion of the
history of the Jews which aims to avoid upholding the covenant between
God and His people, which is a covenant of love. He makes each generation
responsible for their sins and accuses them of corruption and betrayal
(crooked and perverse generation, dor ikesh uftaltol, Devarim 32, 5).
Only one was faithful: Hashem, but the people scorned the Rock that
begat them (32, 18).
4. Union between Hashem-adam-adama (Hashem-man-land)
The last words of Mosheâ€™s song end with the union between God,
his land and his people (admato amo). Hashem made the land and the
people so eternally united and indivisible, that he never abandons
his people despite their betrayals which make him lose all his strength
and resources (32, 36). They are a people who have lost their intelligence
(goy oved etzot) and have no understanding (vein bahem
The prophets have told us repeatedly that in every generation, the
people believed they found salvation by abandoning their heritage in
favor of false alliances. Moshe describes Godâ€™s anger at this: “They
have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god (hem kineuni be lo el). The
prophets consistently warned that alliances which scorned the Torah,
the holy land and the holy people, were illusions and that the abandonment
of the covenant with Hashem would never bring peace, and only disaster.
Those who attribute manâ€™s betrayals to the “silence of
God” are mistaken. This is like a lover abandoning the nest and
accusing his partner of betraying him. In the face of manâ€™s weakness
and infidelity, Hashem will repair the world Himself and the renewal
will be based on a relationship of holiness with the people-land, as
in the last words of Mosheâ€™s song, vekhiper admato amo.
5. The issue today
This interpretation of the Torah is that of the Shla Hakadosh
This is not a political doctrine, that can be discussed with other
theories and then rejected: this is the Torah.
We can never deceive ourselves by believing that:
- these laws apply only to a minority of the Jewish people,
- the problem is different in every generation,
- today conditions are different and we no longer need to adhere to
these rules (the Jewish sects who adhered in the past to the dominant
Greek culture put forward the same argument).
In his last words, Moshe Rabbenu tells us firmly that in each generation
we are actors in “this” same story. And he asks us to listen
(haazinu) and to hear (shema) his words.
6. The explanation of the Shla
All men are included in the divine plan of His creation. But only one
people are placed at the heart of the divine plan . This is seen
in the fact that Israel is called adam, like the world above which
is called adama as in Ezekiel 34, 31 (adam atem) and in Isaiah 14,
14 (“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will
be like the most High: eele al bamote-av edame leelion: the word
av here is a metaphor for the name of God). The word edame (I will
be like) is made up of the same letters as adama, ground, in order
to emphasize the chain and interconnection of entities and concepts - an
interconnection which can only be fully understood in Hebrew.
Why this chain of concepts? Because the divine presence rests on the
merkava, the chariot; we also say that the throne of His glory rests
on this adama, ground, which means that it rests on this people who
are called adama-adam. This is why it is written in Bereshit 1, 26: “naase
adam…let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and
this is inscribed in the name given to the land of Israel, eretz hakodesh
(the holy land).
This land, therefore, cannot be given to any other people, on any pretext,
no more than the Jewish people can discard any part of the Torah.
The Shla notes that in verses 32, 4-5 it is written that if harm is
done to the Torah in this world, terrible consequences will ensue.
It is now clear that Moshe is speaking simultaneously to his people,
the heavens and the earth, for he faces the ultimate truth and the
essence of things. Everything risks falling apart again through the
sins of men who do not believe in the love given in the Torah, or
in the source that begat it, the good earth, and the union with Hashem.
Moshe trembles at the thought, everything is fragile, but the Rock
is firm. Moshe does not flinch and he knows that Hashem will deliver
His people and will punish all those who wish to destroy it. Moshe
shows that, in every generation, Israel will try to cooperate with
the enemies who seek to destroy it. And ultimately, after waste and
carnage, God Himself will have to repair the world.
When people do not want to listen, one has to resort to song, for even
if they do not want to listen to it, they will not oppose it. So
Moshe puts his teaching in a lyrical song. In the same way, the Song
of Songs is protected from any criticism.
Is there another people whose fundamental texts are poems and songs
and whose leader addresses the people with a poem, a shira? Moshe spoke
it “with Yehoshua” in intimacy, he spoke it “in the
ears” of the people (beozne haam 32, 44) and to their hearts: “Set
your heart unto all the words” (simu levavekhem 32, 46). Understand
that “it is no vain thing for you” (lo davar rek hu
mikem 32, 47).
After having shown the people the beauty of the union between Hashem-the
Torah-the people-and the land, paradoxically Moshe is then told by
God that he will not enter THE land for which he pleaded so fervently;
he will only see it “from afar.”
PHOTO of the land of Israel taken by the author from the site where
Moshe stood, overlooking the river Jordan.
What a shock for the man who believed so greatly in the divine role
of this land.
The reason for this refusal is that Moshe belongs to a higher level
of being than that of this world and only the perfect kingdom of the
world On High is at his level. God tells him, according to Rashi: “I
know how much this land which you see is dear to you.”
Because all this is presented as a poem and song, it needs to be understood
and felt with our hearts and ears. Try to “feel” what is
being said: “Give ear, Israel!”
We are one entity (Hashem-Man-Land)
The Shlaâ€™s commentary centers on Mosheâ€™s sensibility and
what he was trying to transmit to us in his song: (Devarim 32, 2: “My
doctrine shall drop as the rain, My speech shall distill as the dew, tizal
The Shla focuses on Devarim 32, 9: “ki helek
Hashem amo, for
the portion of Hashem is his people,” for this clearly shows
that Moshe understood the unity of creation to the end (ad tumam 32,
There is, of course, the simple explanation of this phrase which means
that Hashem reserved Israel for himself and not for others, but there
is also another explanation noted by the commentators: Israel (and
every member of the nation) is a part of Hashem in the fullest sense
of the word.
Moshe says in the name of Israel and in the name of Hashem: we are
one entity. The Shla opens his commentary on this parasha by citing
Sanhedrin 90a: “kol yisrael yesh lahem helek leolam habba, all
Israel has a part in the world to come.”
Listen to the resonance of these words:
- while still not knowing their full meaning,
- we know that, from hence on, we have the same unique destiny,
- we also have the same source,
- and we are united like the different parts of water in Miriamâ€™s
well, like drops in the same torrent, like particles in the same light,
and like the same love that unites two people.
- And, in this, we are part of this world which will one day be entirely
Many commentaries stress this quality, that we are a part of Hashem
and that we form one entity.
The commentatorsâ€™ interpretations
1. Commenting on Psalm 84, ashrei yosheve veitekha, commentators such
as the Hida note that it is not written beveiteka “blessed
are they that dwell in thy house” but veitekha “blessed
are the dwellers of your house and who are your house.” We
are His sanctuary, His house and not just “in” his house,
as is written asu li mikdash veshakhaneti vetokham “make me
a sanctuary that I may dwell in them.”
2. Zohar III 130b (Parasha Emor) develops this concept in relation
to the festival of Succot. It notes that the Torah does not say “and
you shall dwell seven days in the succa” but “sit thee
down seven days” tashevu shivat yamim, which means that we must
be in a state called “seven days.” The Zohar talks of 7
important guests, the ushpezin, who will live be there with us.
It follows, says the Zohar, that he who enters into this state of
existence of “succa” (which means to be totally in the
presence of Hashem) must realize who he is, where he lives and with
whom. Rav Hamemuna Saba said on entering the succa “ let us invite
the ushpezin, come guests of On High, guests of the emuna and he raised
his hands and rejoiced, saying “blessed is our part, blessed
is the part of Israel, for it is said helek Hashem amo.” This
tells us that, although we cannot hear or see these presences with
whom we form one entity, Israel, which is a part of Hashem, we must
remind ourselves of this and repeat it and rejoice in our true source
and our true being.
Thus it is for two lovers when separated; in a state of vulnerability
and longing for each other, they say: “come back my beloved,
you who are so present and fill my life, that I may be one with you
and together we will be one with Hashem, in one neshama.” This
is the Lekha dodi, the Shir Hashirim between Hashem and Israel.
How to sharpen our awareness of this union
In his commentary on Tractate Succa, the Shla notes the importance
of internal and external acts in order to sharpen our awareness of
the union with our supreme partner and the need to remind ourselves
of it and to rejoice in it.
He points to the fact that the Tur, the Beit Yosef, and his own father
in Emek Berakha, say that we must rejoice aloud when we bless the succa,
just as we do for the kiddush.
This passage of the Zohar notes that there is the same image at the
beginning of Bereshit, which does not say ki “be” sheshet
yamim asa Hashem et hashamyim ve et haaretz (“for `duringâ€™ 6
days Hashem created the heavens and the earth”) but sheshet
yamim (“six days”). This means that all things have the quality
of being and of developing from the third zone of bima to the ninth
zone of yesod before attaining that of Shabbat (9-3=6). This is the
text which we read before the kiddush on the first Shabbat meal.
In Massekhet Pessahim 176, the Shla cites the same verse ki
helek Hashem amo and notes that, in our neshama (soul), we are linked to
Hashem, just like a cord which has one end in the world above and one
in the world below. He writes that even that part of us which is destructive
is not entirely negative for it also has its source in the world above,
and even part of Samael, the destructive angel who attacks Yaakov and
who represents the “drug (sam) of death” is divine (el),
and that all things will one day become pure and holiness, and keddusha
will reign supreme.
The same goes for everything that is negative and harmful in our lives,
in us and in our people. The Shla points out that Avraham came out
of the negative source represented by Terah. It is also well known
that the children of the abominable and perfidious Urah were great
Sages who are often quoted in the Psalms.
This union has different forms
This union in one entity expresses itself in different forms:
- first of all “the heavens and the earth”
as in the text
of the kiddush and at the beginning of Bereshit (bara elokim et
ha shamayim ve et haaretz). Despite the complete difference between the
two entities (as between two beings), they are linked by the word et
which indicates the presence in both of the shekhina. And their apparent
difference is actually the sole condition for fecundity and the pleasure
gained from opposites. The difference is the condition which allows
for distance and freedom and for the pleasure of being re-united, as
is clearly shown by the cherubs who are separated from each other but
always present, one for the other.
- all the sons of Yaakov form one entity when they arrive in Egypt
and they number 70 like the 70 faces of the Torah and like the letters
of the supreme name of God.
- Yaakov perfectly expresses the union of man and woman and of the
world above with the world below, in the union Yaakov-Leah and Yaakov-Rahel,
as is described by the Shla in his commentary on parasha Vayetze. The
union Yaakov-Leah represents the invisible, hidden union between two
beings that belongs to the world above, while the union Yaakov-Rahel
is the most perfect union possible in this world. It is that of Israel-Rahel
in which Yaakov loved Rahel and she was loved.
While keddusha belongs to the invisible world, love is the union of
the visible and of that which brings joy (ahava hu sod hagilui
The Shla notes that Leah belongs to what is hidden and unattainable
and because it is distant, it is called different and opposite to love.
This is why it is said that Leah was not loved (in this world).
The power of the invisible world
Because we, in this world, have difficulty with separation, and with
what is invisible and silent, for it makes us feel vulnerable and
fearful (as David describes so often in the Psalms), it is important
to understand that this state of invisibility is extremely fecund,
as shown by Leah who gave birth to 6 sons and one daughter, Dinah.
Rahel, for her part, gave birth to two sons. I note this in order
to show that the divine plan is always fulfilled in stages, and through
differences. However, at Godâ€™s level there is only one plan
and one life, which we discover when we get close to Him in trust,
emuna, and when everything is bemahashava tehila (in his thought
from the beginning).
Fruits develop by stages
Everyone must experience the following stages: to know that helek
Hashem amo, to feel the emotion in the union of two beings, and to understand
that Hashem desires our love in order to attain complete fructification.
The commentaries stress the following paradox: the more there are
difficulties in life, the more one approaches the fruit season. They
demonstrate this through these characteristics: different beings and
periods of waiting as in the case of Yaakov and Rahel, who achieved
a level of union unique among the patriarchs. Trials are necessary
for the process of purification.
Are we reaching too high?
No because the Torah was given to us to study and as a guide for life,
within the divine plan.
No because the Shla tells us in regard to the third sanctuary:
bekhol et hadavar beyadenu she heshiv imatai ben david ba? Hayom im
Everything is in our hands, today even… if we wish it, if we
It is important to listen to the inner voice of emuna that is within
us, as shown in the Song of Songs. Re-read the Song of Songs in this
perspective, which is that of Rahel.
At the beginning of parasha Hayei Sarah, which talks of the union
between “two” levels of live (hayim, is the plural for
life), the Shla shows that this refers to those who are as in: veatem
hadevakim baHashem Elokekhem, hayim kulekhem hayom (you, who adhere
to hashem your God, are all alive today). Thus those who are joined
together and with Hashem (they are tied to Hashem), are “hayim,
lives” in the plural. The Shla adds: vehem mukhanim lehayei
they are ready for this double life which is both concrete and eternal.
Exercise for personal development
This is not literary, philosophical or political study. It simply
shows that, in each generation, Moshe questions and advises the whole
people and each individual. It is up to us what we do with what we
hear and feel. Moshe reminds us, in this parasha, of the story of the
people of Israel in order to warn us of our tendency to forget and
discard what is essential.
Refer to the poem: Listen to the buds
Re-read this study and:
1. Identify the different themes and sections in Mosheâ€™s discourse:
the story, exhortation, warning, reproach, the parts that relate to
Hashem and those that center on Moshe.
2. What themes moved you most? Re-read the parasha and identify them
in the text and in Rashi.
3. Reflect on how all these teachings apply to your own life.
4. Discuss your thoughts with those close to you.
5. Study and learn the Hebrew vocabulary used in this commentary.
An appeal, at the suggestion of readers.
We have just been studying the Torah together and I sincerely hope
that it has been rewarding for you.
I am sure that you are aware of the enormous cost of creating, operating
and maintaining a major Internet site. It has been suggested to me
that readers like yourself can help assume responsibility for part
of these expense, whose aim is to reach out to the thousands of people
who are ignorant of the teachings of the Torah.
It also seems appropriate that the person who is devoting a great part
of his time to writing these studies should not be the sole person
responsible for subsidising a site that is used by students and teachers
Contributions can be paid to (address: Rav Dipur, 5 alef Alroi, Jerusalem,
Account No. 19065 Modia
Bank Hapoalim 12, 574
Your active participation and tzedaka will help
to maintain this site and encourage the study of the Torah throughout
the world. By contributing to this project, you will be doing a mitzva,
for he who studies the Torah is obligated to teach it to others. May
you and your families be blessed and may you reap the rewards of a
life lived according to the Torah.
Amen, ken yehi ratzon.