Food For the Soul
The Parsha Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32: 1-52) starts with the statement “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; may the earth hear the words of my mouth.”
Two different Hebrew words are used for what, at first glance, is the same idea. Regarding the heavens, the verse says ha’azinu, literally “give ear”– pay heed, listen up, take note, etc. Regarding the earth, the verse uses the word v’tishma, meaning “it shall hear.” The commentators mention that this difference is based on the different “customers.” When it comes to the heavens (from whom our expectations are naturally higher) a harsher tone is used; whereas regarding the more vulnerable earth the somewhat softer “it shall hear” is used.
As we have noted before, there is a concept that “words which come from the heart… enter the heart.” In other words, when we speak sincerely and target our words correctly, they will be well received. Conversely, if we find that our words are not being well received, it is a sign that something is wrong in our delivery and approach.
We find this lesson in this week’s parshah. When Moses is addressing the heavens and the earth, he adopts an appropriate tone of voice, depending on who he is dealing with.
Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg
Sukkot: October 9-16, 2022
The seven days of Sukkot—celebrated by dwelling in the sukkah, taking the Four Kinds [of plants], and rejoicing—are followed by Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (October 16-18).
Sukkot—when we expose ourselves to the elements in greenery-covered huts—commemorates G-d sheltering our ancestors as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Four Kinds express our unity and our belief in G-d’s omnipresence. Coming after the solemn High Holidays, Sukkot is a time of joy and happiness. The first two days (or one day in Israel) are yom tov, when work is forbidden, candles are lit in the evening, and festive meals are preceded with Kiddush and contain challah dipped in honey. The remainder of the days are quasi holidays, known as chol hamoed. We dwell in the sukkah and take the Four Kinds every day (except for Shabbat, when we do not take the Four Kinds).
Read more about Sukkot at Chabad.org
Mind Over Matter
Hugged By A Hut
A sukkah is an embrace. You sit inside and G-d is hugging you. All of you, from head to toe. Whatever you do inside your sukkah—sip a beer, chat with a friend, answer your e-mail, or just sleep soundly—all is transformed into a mitzvah, a secure and timeless connection with the Infinite. And then, when you leave the sukkah to enter the world, you carry that hug with you.
All of life can become an embrace. A hug with the Infinite.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
All Events Serve A Single Goal
Like a matching game, each act of beauty uncovers another face of the infinite. Each generation completes its part of the puzzle. Until the table is set and prepared. Until all that remains is for the curtains to be raised, the clouds to dissipate, the sun to shine down on all our bruised and bloodied hands have planted, and let it blossom and bear fruit.
That is where we are now. We know a world in the process of becoming. Soon will be a world where each thing has arrived.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Have I Got A Story
The Blueprints of Destiny
The Ramban once had a student, Rav Avner, who converted to Catholicism and assimilated into Spanish society. Soon he rose to the highest ranks of the nobility. Once he summoned his former teacher to appear before him on Yom Kippur. Fearful of the possible negative consequences that could arise from not heeding the order and hopeful that the influence of the holy day would enable him to spur his former student to repentance, the Ramban made his way to Avner’s palace. When he entered, he was ushered into his student’s chamber. Avner had been waiting for him. He took a knife, approached a pig that he had prepared, slaughtered it, cut it up, roasted its meat on a fire, and ate it with relish.
“How many transgressions involving the serious punishment of Kerais did I just commit?” he asked the Ramban.
“Four,” the sage answered.
“No, five,” Avner replied, and with erudition, he proceeded to prove the correctness of his assertion.
“If your knowledge is so great,” the Ramban asked, “why did you forsake the Torah?”
“You are at fault,” Avner replied.
“What did I do?”
“Once at a public lecture, you stated that everything that will ever transpire is alluded in the Song Haazinu. I considered that a most preposterous statement and decided that I want no part of a religion whose teachers would utter such absurdities.”
“What I said is absolutely true,” replied the Ramban.
“Prove it to me,” responded Avner. “Show me where my name is alluded to in Haazinu. ”
After a moment’s thought, the Ramban answered: It is written: “I said: `I will scatter them; I will obliterate their memory from among mankind.” (Haazinu 32:26)’ The third letters of each of the [Hebrew] words of the verse spells out Rav Avner.”
“What can I do to correct my error?” Avner asked in awe.
“Follow the directive of the verse,” the Ramban replied.
Shortly afterwards, a black-masted ship set off from a Spanish harbor to a destination unknown.
We all have an individual destiny. The Torah, the “blueprints into which G_d looked when creating the world,” helps us reveal that destiny. Parshas Haazinu includes the entire Torah in capsulized form and thus serves as a prophecy for our people as a whole and for every individual.
From The Lubavitcher Rebbe, adapted by Rabbi Eli Touger