For the week ending 4 October 2003 / 8 Tishri 5764

Parshat Ha'azinu

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Almost all of Ha'azinu is a song, written in the Torah in two parallel columns. Moshe summons the heavens and the earth to stand as eternal witnesses to what will happen if the Jewish People sin and do not obey the Torah. He reminds the people to examine the history of the world, and note how the Jewish People are rescued from obliteration in each generation - that Hashem "pulls the strings" of world events so that Bnei Yisrael can fulfill their destiny as His messengers in the world. Hashem's kindness is such that Israel should be eternally grateful, not just for sustaining them in the wilderness, but for bringing them to a land of amazing abundance, and for defeating their enemies. But, this physical bounty leads the people to become self-satisfied and over-indulged. Physical pleasures corrupt the morals of the people. They worship empty idols and powerless gods, and indulge in all kinds of depravity. Hashem will then let nations with no moral worth subjugate Israel and scatter them across the world. However, their only purpose is as a rod to chastise the Jewish People. When these nations think that it is through their own power that they have dominated Israel, Hashem will remind them that they are no more that a tool to do His will. The purpose of the Jewish People is fundamental - that man should know his Creator. Neither exile nor suffering can sever the bond between Hashem and His people, and eventually in the final redemption this closeness will be restored. Hashem will then turn His anger against the enemies of Israel, as though they were His enemies, showing no mercy to the tormentors of His people. Hashem then gives His last commandment to Moshe: That he should ascend Mount Nevo and be gathered there to his people.


Its My Party!

"The Rock perfect is His work righteous and fair is He." (32:4)

Last year was a difficult year for the Jewish People. May it be His will that the one that has just commenced will be easier for us! The following might help to put the events of the past year in their true perspective.

Once there was a rich man whose son fell ill with a bizarre and unknown malady. Try as they might, none of the doctors could fathom the boys deepening sickness. In desperation, the rich man sent for a world-famous professor to check his son. The professor arrived and immediately set to work. He diagnosed a rare dietary sensitivity that precluded the son from ever eating meat. Such was the sensitivity of the son to meat, that to consume even a small amount could jeopardize his life. (No, this is not an advertisement for vegetarianism, its a mashal, a parable. If you hadnt guessed)

Slowly the boys condition improved, and eventually he was cured. Accompanied by profuse thanks and a large check the professor returned to his ivory tower. Not long after, the rich man went abroad on business. Before he left, however, he gave strict instructions to his household that his son was to be given no meat whatsoever.

A week passed, then two. One day, the son was passing the dining room. A delectable smell of roast beef wafted up from the table and played around his nostrils. The warning of the professor started to evaporate in the aroma of the roast beef, and, unable to resist, he peeked around the door. Seeing that no one was there, he made his way furtively to the table, wrapped up a large slice of juicy beef in a napkin, placed it pocket and whistling nonchalantly, he sidled from the room. Once outside, he devoured the beef with relish.

Needless to say, before you could say, "I told you so," he was prostrate on his bed in a total relapse. The rich man was summoned from abroad and he returned to find his son hovering between life and death. He begged the professor to try and save his son. On the spot, he promised him that never again would he venture abroad on business, that he himself would be the constant guardian of his sons health. Under these terms, the professor agreed to return once more and do what he could for the boy.

With enormous care and diligence on the part of the professor, the boy slowly returned to health.

The father decided to make a large meal to celebrate his sons recovery. He invited all of his family and friends and rented a suite at the finest hotel. On the night of the meal, his son arrived at the party beaming from ear to ear. All the guests were seated at the tables in deep communion with their main course. The father arose, and as his son was making his way to his place, the father told him to leave the hall immediately. The clink of china and cut glass gave way to an embarrassed hush. In spite of the sons requests to be allowed to stay, the father was adamant and the son left the hall. Slowly, the conversation resumed. And of course, the topic was the bizarre behavior of this cruel father.

Only the father knew the reason for his actions.

Similarly the Master of the World "runs" His creation. Sometimes He expels the most righteous people first from this earthly dining room. However, it is always for their own good. And if we, the guests, fail to understand His conduct, we must know with total clarity that it is always for their good.

For "righteous and fair is He".

Based on the Chafetz Chaim

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