Blog Haazinu Tishrei 13 5779 בלוג הַאֲזִינוּ, י”ג תשרי תשע”ט
Parashat Haazinu, which is at the end of the five books of the Torah, in the literal sense means “give ear”, in other words, “pay attention”. It was written as a song so that it would be easier for us to remember. The heavens and earth would be witness to what we needed to learn “by mouth” in the Hebrew, but in English we say, “by heart”. We learn through repetition. Whenever people tell me that I often repeat myself, my response to them is “yes, but have you put it into practice?” Instead, we prefer to pass the buck, to blame others for our actions. This, however is not new. The first two people on earth, Adam and Eve both blamed the Creator for their failure… the woman that You gave to me, she made me do it. I have heard survivors of the Holocaust tell me that if there were a God, He would never have allowed that to happen to innocent people. The book of Devarim addresses this issue as clear as day.
The song begins with the metaphors of shower, rain and dew picturing the richness of the Torah as the rains bring life to the earth. Moshe is proclaiming the greatness and perfection of the LORD. He is the Rock and His work is perfect. This is followed by an interesting phrase that has been mistranslated and misunderstood – “shichet loh lo” שִׁחֵת לוֹ לֹא… “is He honest, no”? What this means is that we are saying that the Bore Olam is not honest because we have acted perversely. In other words, since He created us to be perverse, the blame can be placed upon Him; our perversion is not our fault. Moshe Rabeinu, however is telling the people to stop blaming the Creator for our failures. He gave us the greatest gift we could have – free will and a soul for which to be responsible – ourselves. Herein lies the failure of the people Israel who grew strong and prosperous which caused them to believe that they did it on their own. They forgot the God who formed and prospered them. They became their own gods. Moshe was reminding Israel that they were going to fail. When do we usually run to the Creator? Be honest! It is usually when things are falling apart.
We just went through searching our hearts at Yom Kippur, and now we need to do as Moshe instructed…to stop blaming others for our own faults; to start being responsible for our actions. It is important to know that we can never be right or good with others, until we can make things right or good within ourselves. That is the principle that our Rabbi Yeshua taught us based on the Ten Commandments – to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Here is a golden nugget: Yom Kippur has been translated as the Day of Atonement or Expiation, the day on which our sins have been forgiven. That is a very poor translation. The word kippur is from kaper, which means covering. The Creator “covers” our sins. The picture here is that we as His people, including all our sins and imperfections, dwell under His kaparah – cover of protection, as long as we continue to do teshuva, turn back to Him and obey His Commandments. When we disobey Him, we remove ourselves from His cover and reap the consequences of being “outside the camp.” Our failures are like old scars that remind us of our fragility even if the pain of them is gone. They keep us humble before Him as we remember what caused them.
I am so tired of those religious people who turn up their noses at others who are not like them. In Luke 10: 29-37, Rabbi Yeshua told us a mashal, a parable about a man who had been attacked by robbers and left for dead at the side of the road. Both a Cohen and a Levite crossed to the other side and passed him by. A Samaritan man found him, mended his wounds, took him to an innkeeper and paid to have him cared for. Even though the Samaritans were considered half-breeds and looked down upon by the “pure Israelites”, he was more righteous, a true neighbor. It’s easy for us to look righteous by wearing the right uniform or by saying the right words but the Creator knows our heart!
Stop trying to play a role. Be the best person that you were meant to be, as He created you to be. Never compare yourself with anyone else. The Creator doesn’t care about what religion we are; He cares about what is in our hearts, our kavanah, intention. He put His Torah within us and that is what gives us our identity. How we dress is less important than what is in our heart; what we eat is less important than what comes out of our mouths. What the Creator thinks about us is more important than what others think about us. We live in a very hypocritical world where only façade counts. Today we are afraid of speaking out for what is right and wrong. We live to impress others instead of being honest with ourselves.
My heart goes out to the youth who are bombarded with immorality imposed and sanctioned by our governments. We are supposed to be living in an age of enlightenment but what we find is censorship of what is right and acceptance for what is wrong. The country suffering most in this battle of identity and morality is Israel. Israel wants to be accepted by the world and doesn’t understand that we will never be accepted by the world, no matter what we do. That is because of the One who is covering us, blessed be His Name. We are starting a new year when we can begin our lives once again with a clean slate. As we go to celebrate Sukkot, the last of the Moedim on Sunday evening, let us remember that only He is perfect, not us, that He is our shelter, our cover and that He is the God of beginning again. Chag Sukkot Sameach.