Abarbanel on the Parsha

For the week ending 23 September 2017 / 3 Tishri 5778

Parshat Ha'azinu

by Rabbi Pinchas Kasnett
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A Torah of Kindness

Abarbanel relates that this Parsha consists of 6 separate sections:

  1. General Introduction
  2. The benefits that G-d has granted to the Jewish People
  3. The transgressions of the Jewish People
  4. The punishments that will follow these transgressions
  5. G-d's initial intention to annihilate the Jewish People
  6. Consolation and G-d's revenge against the enemies of the Jewish People

In reference to G-d's benefits, verse 6 in chapter 32 alludes to four specific types of kindness: "Is He not your Father, your Master? Has he not created you and set you up as a firm foundation? The verses that follow proceed to explain this verse:

  1. “Your Father” is a reference to the fact that G-d is the ultimate father. Just as He created the universe, He also created mankind. This is what is meant in verse 7, "Remember the days of yore, understand the years of generation after generation." G-d tells us to trace back through human history all the way to its very beginning, and to recognize Him as mankind's ultimate Creator.
  2. “Your Master” is a reference to the Exodus from Egypt, when G-d 'acquired' us as His people. Even though succeeding generations did not experience the Exodus, verse 7 continues, "Ask your father and he will relate it to you, and your elders, and they will tell you."
  3. “Has he not created you” is a reference to the Torah as a possession of the Jewish People. Verse 8 relates that G-d granted each of the nations of the world its particular portion. But the Jewish People received “G-d's portion”. This refers to the giving of the Torah at Sinai, as it says in verse 10, "He discovered him in a desert land... He granted him discernment." By giving us the Torah, G-d “created” the Jewish people — a new creation that is unique and distinct from the other nations.
  4. The final kindness is giving the Land of Israel to the Jewish People. This is the meaning of verse 13, "He will make him ride on the heights of the Land." This refers to the conquest and settlement of the Land of Israel.

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