(32:1) “Hazinu Hashomayim V’adabeirah-Give ear Heavens and I will speak.” Rashi says that Moshe is calling as witness the Heavens and the Earth. How can the Heavens testify for or against anything? There are so many laws pertaining to proper witnesses. How can these be brought to bear witness? The Kol Torah writes that they can. Every mitzvah that we perform directly affects the physical world. By the same token every sin has its negative effect. Moshe can call the Heavens and the Earth as witness because they will be physically changed by the conduct of Klal Yisroel. The maintenance of Heaven and Earth is dependent on the behavior of Klal Yisroel. If we do our job in this world, the world will be on course. But if we emit negativity into the spiritual world, the effect will be reflected in the Heavens to the point that it will be as visible as testimony.
On this the last day of Moshe's life, He calls the heavens to be witness to the Shira of Ha'zinu. Why is there this concept of “Yiras Shomayim” when in reality “Yiras Hashem” is what is meant? It's said over in the name of Rav Mekotzak in the Likutay Yehoshua that at the “Dawn of Creaion”, Hashem caused the heavens to be suspended with the strength of his command. They remained there without wavering in their duty from the fear of Hashem's word. This is the Yiras Shomayim that is discussed. We should learn “Yiras Hashem” from the Yira of Shomayim. Just as the Shomayim never faltered from its duties so must be our Yiras Hashem as well.
The Shira of Ha'zinu is the fourth of ten shiras in the Torah. Each of the other shiras were motivated by some extraordinary event preceding it. “Az Yashir” was the shira sung just after the splitting of the Red Sea. In parshas Chukas they sang in praise of the well of Miriam. When Hashem stopped the sun for Yehoshua he sang shira. In each case it was a reaction to some miraculous deliverance. But the shira of Ha'zinu is different in that it depicts what will happen to the Jewish people until the end of days. It foretells their punishment for breaking Hashem's covenant. Why is this a shira? What is it in this prophetic song that prompted Moshe to feel the need to sing?
It could be that this, being the last day of Moshe's life, was also a time when he was at the highest level of Kiddusha. He was at the apex of his prophetic vision. At this point in his life Moshe's vision was able to span the spectrum of time and view it all in one harmonious light. Future and past events are not only in harmony, but clarify one another. There can be no harmony until justice is delivered. This is the nature of this shira, to express recognition of the total harmony of the creation.
(32:7) Zechor Yemos Olam Binu Shinos Dore V'dore Shoal Avicha V'yagedcha Zikainacha V'yomru Lecha-Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations, ask your father and he will declare unto you, your elders and they will tell you.” The Torah is telling us to learn about our past. Rashi explains that it is within our power to alter our future by studying our past. Over and over history has proven how events should have been avoided through the study of the past. This verse is the 5760th verse in the Torah. According to the Gra’ each verse in the Torah corresponds to a year of world history. So if we were to look at events of that year we would find that they relate to the verse. This verse to remember the past corresponds to the year 2000 (5760) just prior to the World Trade Center attack. A prediction unheeded, a lesson never learned. The next verse reads “B’hanchil Elyon Goyim B’hafrido Beni Adom Yatzev Gevulos Amim L’mispar Beni Yisroel-When Hashem gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of men, He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of children of Israel.” The Torah is emphasizing that events of the world revolve around the children of Israel, sometimes more obvious than others.
(32:8) Yatzev Gevulo Amim B’Mispar Shemos Bnei Yisroel-He set the boundaries of nations according to the number of the children of Israel.” Because all of humanity, at the time of the dispersion rejected Hashem, He handed over the mandate to Yisrael. The power of speech is what elevates man above the animals. All of the world was of one tongue, and that speech was Loshon Kodesh, the language used to create the universe. Such power could not be left in the hands of those challenging Hashem. Each of the nations were assigned their own Malach to oversee them, but Yisroel deals directly through Hashem. This, explains the G’ra, is the reason why someone who leaves Eretz Yisroel is considered as if he worships other Gods.
(32:13) Yarkivahu Al-Bomsei Eretz-He would make him ride on the heights of the land.” The Holy Land is like a “stage” (Boma) for all the other countries; everyone watches to see what is happening there. In our time, when the right of self-determination has been granted to all nations, dozens of new states have been formed, large and small. But who ever talks about them? The media mentions them once a year, if at all. The State of Israel, though it was only established after the Second World War, is on everyone’s lips. There is not a newspaper in the world which doesn’t mention Israel literally on a daily basis. The Holy Land is truly a stage, with the whole world as the audience. Perhaps we were granted this dubious privilege because we forgot that Hashem’s eyes “are always upon it, (the Land) from the beginning of the year to year’s end.” (11:12)
(32:16) “Yakniuhu B’Zorim B’Toeivos Yachisuhu- They would provoke His fury with strangers, they would anger Him with abominations.”Rashi says They incited Hashem’s anger with abominations by allowing homosexual behavior.
According to the Gra’ every verse in the Torah corresponds to a year in history. The verses of this week’s parsha, Hazinu bring us to modern day history. This verse is the 5769th verse in the Torah it corresponds to the year 2009. A pivotal year in the laws of same sex marriages which became legal January 1st 2009 in Norway, April 1st. 2009 in Sweden, April 3rd. in Iowa, April 7th 2009 in Vermont, May 6th in Maine, June 3rd. 2009 in New Hampshire.
(32:19) “Vayar Hashem Vayinotz M’kaas Bonov U’vinosav-Hashem will see and be provoked by the anger of his sons and daughters.” Even here we strive to find the blessings in the curse. Hashem will be angry but as a father to his child.
As the end of history unfolds we must remember our lessons of the past. We must never get too complacent in our host country. We must never say “it can’t happen here!” The year 5775 was connected to the Posuk (32:21) “Haim Kinuni B'lo Ale....v'Ani Akniaim B'lo Am-They provoked me with a non God ...I shall provoke them with a non nation. With a vile nation shall I anger them.” Originally when I read this verse my thoughts were on the Palestinians (a non-nation), but now after the year has passed it seems obvious that ISIS is the subject. With Iran threatening nuclear devastation the next verse is frightening. (32:22) "Ki Aish Kodcha B'api Vatikad ade Shaul Tachtis-For a fire will be kindled in my nostrils and blaze to the lowest depths." Rash comments that the verse refers to Jerusalem. Heaven forbid. But perhaps even worse is the next two years. (32:24) "Ketev Meriri-The cutting down of Meriri" Explains the Iban Ezra that this refers to poison air that kills. Chemical weapons as we have seen most recently in Syria. This verse corresponds to the year 5777/2017.
(32:29) "Lu ChachmuYaskilu Zos Yovinu L'Achreisom-Were they wise they would comprehend this, they would discern it from their end." These verses are speaking to our generation. We must be wise and think of these verses to gain insight into the final days.
(32:30) “Ki Tzurom Mochrom-For their rock had sold them.” Whenever there is transcendence to a higher dimension, there is a test of Emunah. We find it by Yetzias Mitzraim, where after the Ten Macos and all of the miracles performed for Benei Yisroel they suddenly found themselves apparently trapped at the Red Sea with the Egyptians closing in. A test of Emunah. At the end of a person’s life the same principal holds true. The moment the soul and body are separated it finds itself in a black void. A voice whispers to it “there is no after life.” But if it can hold on to its faith for just that brief moment, the light of the next world will shine through. If not, G-D forbid, all could be lost.
There is a tradition that in the days of Moshiach the descendants of Yishmael will lay claim to the Temple Mount. They will claim that it belongs to them and to prove it they will request that a test be conducted. Both sides will bring a sacrifice to Hashem and each will agree to convert to the other side if their sacrifice is accepted. So Benei Yishmael will bring a korban and Benei Yisroel will bring a korban. A fire will descend and consume the korban of Benei Yishmael. At this point Yisroel will cry out Shema Yisroel and refuse to convert. A fierce battle will ensue and the survivors will flee to the mountains. Forty days later the Moshiach will arrive. Those who hold on to their faith will be there to see it.
The Gemarrah relates a story about R.Akiva who while passing the destroyed Beis Hamikdosh saw a fox emerging from the ruins and was overjoyed. When asked why, he replied that if this prophecy has come true, then the others about the redemption are also destined to come true. In this weeks parsha we have this posuk “Ki Tzurom Mochrom-For their rock had sold them.” The ROCK of this verse had sold them. The ROCK that is on the Temple Mount that is in the headlines. The ROCK upon which the Akeidah took place and upon which the future sacrifices will be brought. May we be able to keep the faith to see the final redemption quickly in our days.
(32:44) “Vayovo Moshe.. Hu V’ Hoshea Bin Nun-Moshe came and spoke, He and Hoshea the son of Nun.” Many years had past since Yehoshua’s name was changed. Why here is he called Hoshea again? According to the Gemarra in Sanhedrin (2:6) when Hashem changed the name of Sarah from Sarai he removed the letter “Yud” from the end of her name. The letter “Yud” complained that it was no longer associated with this great Tzadeikes whereby Hashem comforted the “Yud” by telling it that eventually it would be placed at the beginning of a great man’s name. Yehoshua. Sarah’s name change took place one year before the birth of Yitzchok. So she was 89 years old at the time. Since Sarah was 127 years old when she passed away, her name change was in effect for 38 years.
In the second year after the departure from Mitzraim, Moshe sent spies to tour Eretz Yisroel. At that time he prayed for Hoshea and added the letter “Yud” to his name. Moshe’s death took place at the end of forty years in the Midbar. The Posuk is telling us that the 38 years the “Yud” was removed from Sarah’s name have now been repaid.
(32:43) “ V’Chipaer Admoso Amo- He will appease his land and his people.” From here we learn that the land of Israel is a Kapora. This is why people are buried in Israel. Our custom is that even people who have passed away outside of the land are buried with some of the earth of Eretz Yisroel. The Midrash quotes Kesuvos 111 explaining that if a person is buried in Eretz Yisroel his sins will be transferred to the land. The land will act like a Mikveh.
The Zohar was very against allowing a person who has not lived in Eretz Yisroel to be buried there. He likens it to taking that which is holy and making it profane. The body which lived outside of Holy Land is elevated while the soul, the spirit, left in a profane state.
(32:47) “Ki Lo Davar Rake Hu Mikem- For it is not an empty teaching.” The Tosfos Bracha say's these words have the same gematria as “Zeh Gematrios-These are Gematrious.” The Torah ends by telling us “Gematrios” are not an empty pursuit. Rather they are an important approach to understand the Torah. Moreover, Gematria is one of the rules of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yosi Haglili by which to elucidate the Torah (rule 29). Throughout the Gemarra Chazal use this method of interpretation.
(32:48) "B'etzem Hayom Hazeh- At mid-day" Rashi says that there are three places that this phrase is used. The first case is when Noach was about to enter the Teivah. He entered in broad daylight despite the objections of his generation. The second case was Yetzias Mitrayim. Klal Yisroel left in broad daylight in spite of the Egyptians claiming they would prevent it. The third is here. Moshe is commanded to ascend mount Nebo and die there. Once again in this was done in broad daylight despite the protests of Klal Yisroel. But in reality there is a fourth (Bereishis 17:23) by the bris of Avraham? Rashi there says that Avraham performed the Bris Milah "B'etzem Hayom Hazeh- At mid-day" despite possible opposition from his generation? Why was it not included here? Perhaps the case of Avraham’s Bris Milah is not listed by Rashi in Devarim (32:48) because Avraham only perceived a threat; an overt threat was not really issued. In the cases of Noach, Mitzrayim and Moshe, there were glaring threats made by groups of people who vowed to interfere with the “Will of Hashem” while in Avraham’s case, he only sought to prevent others from voicing a possible objection after the fact.