Parshas Ha-azinu – Don’t hide from me
הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי-פִי
We wish every one of you a 'gmar chatimah tovah', ‘a gutten kvittel’ may this be a wonderful year both physically and spiritually, b'ezrat Hashem. I love building sukkot, it is such a pleasure. May we all merit to sit together in Hashem’s Sukkah of Peace – together with Moshiach Now!
In addition to some selections from previous years, there are a few new teachings on the opening verses of Haazinu written this morning, following after some raw words written late at night after Yom Kippur. You will find my name being used in this piece, but you can just as well insert anyone else’s, even yours if appropriate. The second stanza unfortunately applies to many fathers and mothers who were chased away or had to flee from their children during the Holocaust. Let’s move chronologically:
Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot: Are you ready for Joy (1)
Some raw words written late at night after Yom Kippur:
Again You are hiding
and we don’t see the truth with clarity
what do You have in store for us this year
will we have the strength of mind and courage
to believe to see to know
that it is all very good
though I say I believe
or at least want to believe
in Divine Providence
though I at least want to believe
that all You do is good
and for the good
I don’t understand why You allowed me
to be chased away from my children
I don’t understand why they too had to suffer
how was it better for them to grow up without me
am I was I such a lousy father?
do I not know how to be a good father?
is this my biggest failure in life?
and how did my heart and soul get so
for they are so imprisoned
making excuses for myself
is also a prison
not knowing what to do
is also a prison
not knowing how to allow myself to be b’simcha
is also a prison
not knowing how to live and be honest
is also a prison
Sholom, the Alter Rebbe taught
listen and hear you are ‘Yisrael’
but you are out of alignment
so your ‘Yisrael’ neshamah is not illuminating your life
keep on reminding yourself and meditating
“you are Yisrael”
no matter what
don’t stop believing that
even for a moment
get yourself back into realignment
let your Yisrael illuminate within
radiate Hashem’s light to your children and grandchildren
no matter how from how far away
they need to receive your light from afar
you cannot know why
but this is very good for you for them
for now stop trying to understand it
stop looking at your life superficially
illuminate within be beautiful within
and you will radiate outward
that is how it will be beautiful again
inside and outside
don’t accept the concealment
don’t strengthen it
look deeper look higher
please do not be angry at Me
I am ready to help you
you have to stop being angry at Me
get in touch with your ‘Yisrael’
and it will be clear that
Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad
that you are one with Hashem’s Oneness
and you will be able to declare this truth with joy
through time and space
you will shine and reflect Hashem’s glory
and you will see Hashem Hu HaElokim
you will see Hashem’s love and goodness in everything
nothing will conceal His radiant light from you
strengthen yourself, your faith
your commitment and resolve
do the ‘fixing’ you need to do
daaven the way you know you should
the way of honesty
learn like you should
accept the yoke of ‘shamayim’ with joy
‘Sholom, you are Yisrael’
these words were received and written just this morning
“Listen heavens and I will speak
let the earth hear the words of my mouth”
the heavens hear your decisions, your commitments
the earth listens to the words of your mouth, to how you speak
therefore I pray that my speech should be productive like the rains
my words refreshing like the dew
when I call out Hashem’s name in His sanctuary
respond with praise to His greatness
when you hear Hashem’s Name within
for He is speaking to you
telling you ‘I am here’
Shma Yisrael listen and know
you are Yisrael, your neshamah is a part of Hashem
your essence is your higher soul – “Yisrael”
all your energies and strengths emanate from Him b”H
listen and hear His compassionate words
listen carefully respond with gratitude and truth
feel His words
tremble as they reverberate through your body
through the heavens and earth
be so very careful when you speak
for the heavens do hear you
even the earth is listening
to the truth and love in your voice
in Hashem’s holy Kodesh- sanctuary
you have been given two gifts
to pronounce His holy Name, to bring His close presence
into the consciousness of the world
to speak words that will make a positive difference
in your life in the lives of your children and loved ones
words that will make a real positive productive change in the world
and He also gives you the gift
to respond with gratitude- sincere gratitude
there are times you can speak beautiful holy words
and there are times when you can (only) hear them
you have the gift to respond with gratitude
“through time and space
Your glory shines
our blessed King”
and from whom will you hear Hashem’s Name
when you are in the holy
you can hear it from the children
you can hear it from your neighbor
from the bus driver and from your grocer
you can hear it even from those you least expected
when you are consciously aware that you are Yisrael
you are b’simcha not only with your gifts
you can rejoice with your friend’s gifts
then you can really dance
then you can hear Hashem’s Name
Hashem’s live energy
reverberating through every cell in your body
Remember to say with gratitude:
“through time and space Your glory shines
our blessed King”
Have a wonderful Shabbos b’ahavah ubiuvracha
Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot: Are you ready for Joy (2)
At the end of the Yom Kippur – Neila service, we all proclaimed out loud, "Shma Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad", and then we repeated "Baruch Shem K'vod Malchuto l'Olam Va'ed" three times, and then we said "Hashem Hu Ha'Elokim" seven times.
One difference between Yom Kippur and Sukkot is that on Yom Kippur we do ‘tshuvah m’yirah’ – tshuvah inspired by fear and awe of Hashem, but on Sukkot we do ‘tshuvha m’ahavah’ – tshuvah inspired by love of Hashem. The tshuvah of Yom Kippur needs to be anchored with the joy of Sukkot.
The Sfas Emes explains that you have complete free choice only when your heart is filled with joy. Reb Shlomo put it this way “Unless you are filled with joy, you are not one with Hashem!”
Hashem is giving us so much joy over the Sukkot holiday – zman simchateinu – the season of our joy, that you can’t help but feeling joyous. Only a joyous heart can completely accept Torah and mitzvot with a full heart.
After Yom Kippur when our hearts have been cleansed of negativity, we are free once again to really be joyous and to have real love for Hashem and for everyone in our family and for every one of our brothers and sisters.
THE TORAH IS OUR LIFE
Ha'azinu hashomayim va'adabeyra-Hearken heaven and I shall speak
v'tishmah ha’aretz imrei fee-let the earth hear my mouth's sayings.
Ya'arof ka'matar likchi-let my instruction flow as rainfall
teezal ka'tal imratee-let my saying drip as dew
k'se'eerim alei deshe-like storm winds on verdure
v'chirvivim alei eisev-and like raindrops on grass (Deut.32:1-2)
It's the last day of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life and this is his song. In the opening verses of this very deep song, Moshe Rabbeinu calls upon the heavens and the earth to be witnesses to the covenant that we accepted to fulfill. And what is the testimony that the witnesses are to deliver?
Says Rashi on verse 2: "Let my instruction flow like rainfall" – This is the witness you are to bear: That I declare before you that the Torah that I have given to Yisrael, is life to the world like the very rainfall which is life to the world, when the heavens flow with dew and rainfall.'
Seven - barley
THOSE STORMY WINDS
Further in the same verse, Rashi explains: "Like storm winds". Just as the winds fortify vegetation and nurture it, so too do the words of Torah nurture those who study them.
The Torah [in the second paragraph of the 'Shma' Deut. 11] states that there is a direct relationship between the fulfillment of the mitzvot and the gifts of the rains and bountiful crops. However, this relationship is not always an obvious one. For as we find in the Talmud, there is a "tzaddik v'ra lo," the righteous one who is living with suffering, and there is a "rasha v'tov lo," the wicked one who is prospering. Both of these situations seemingly contradict our concepts of reward and punishment! And thus Moshe Rabbeinu continues in our parsha:
"The Almighty's works are flawless, for all His ways are just; A G-d of faithfulness without injustice; He is righteous and upright" (Deut. 32:4 )
Rashi brings us the traditional explanation found in the Talmud: 'A G-d of faithfulness.' By rewarding the righteous for their righteousness in the World to Come. Although He delays rewarding them, in the end He is faithful to His word.'
KNOCKING THE DUST OUT OF YOU
The holy Rizhiner Rebbe once told the following parable:
Some holy angels approached the Master of the world with a sincere offer to help in the management of the world. They said, "Ribbono shel Olam we know that You are very busy all the time, so we thought that maybe we could be of help." "How would you like to help"? the Holy One Boruch Hu asked. "We thought that we would be really good at managing the weather system. We could ensure that the rains will come at the right times, that the temperatures will be appropriate and comfortable at all times, so that mankind would always be blessed with nutritious and abundant crops." "Great! You have the job," said the Holy One B"H.
The angels eagerly set about carrying out their new responsibilities. They devised an excellent weather system; lots of sunshine, comfortable temperature, abundant rains which fell during the evenings, no fierce storms, etc. The people and the animals were delighted. The wells and cisterns were full and the new crops were beautiful. When the harvest season arrived everyone was amazed with the abundant harvests and the richness of the grains. The wheat was finally ground into flour and everyone was eagerly waiting to taste the new breads.
But alas! The bakers could not make any dough with this flour, they couldn't get it to stick. They tried using flour from the north, they tried flour from the south, from the east and from the west, and they even tried using different combinations of flour. But no matter how much they tried, they could not succeed in making even a single batch of dough.
Everyone was very upset. They had had such high expectations from the grains that had grown so beautifully. What went wrong? There was no bread to eat and everyone was beginning to complain bitterly. Needless to say the angels who had managed the weather were also very sad and very upset. They came before G-d:
"Master of the universe, we tried so hard to please You and Your creatures. We took great care to provide excellent weather, abundant rain and sunshine. The crops grew lush full. The wheat kernels were healthy and plump, and produced such fine flour. But this flour is tainted, it cannot be made into a dough, and now the people are without bread. Please Hashem, tell us what did we do that was wrong"?
"You provided perfect quantities of rain, but were there any heavy strong downpours? Did you bring stormy winds"? asked Hashem. "But of course not. We made sure that the weather was very pleasant, the rains always fell gently, and the breezes were pleasant and gentle, not a single stalk of wheat ever banged into another", they answered.
"That's the problem!" said Hashem. "We don’t understand, could You please explain what You mean?" "It's like this. Everything in this world comes from the dust of the earth. Everything that grows contains a certain amount of dust in it, and dust does not stick to dust. The strong winds cause the wheat stalks bang into each other. As the wheat talks bang into each other they knock out the dust from one another, and then the flour can stick and the dough can be made”.
The next time someone bangs into you, before getting angry, meditate and be thankful that some of your dust is getting knocked out.
"everything is to be found in the Song of Ha-azinu"
In a sicha on Shabbos Parshas Ha-azinu in the year 5742 the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l taught:
Seder Hadoros relates that Ramban once confronted a former student of his, Avner, and asked him why he had strayed from the path of observant Judaism. Abner replied that Ramban had once taught that, "everything is to be found in the Song of Ha-azinu," and Avner found the idea so utterly preposterous that it led him to lose his faith. When Ramban stated that he still held by his assertion, Abner challenged him, "If so, where is my name to be found in the song"? Ramban turned to the wall praying to G-d, and it soon occurred to him that the third letter of each word in verse 26, spelled Avner's name:
אָמַרְתִּי אַפְאֵיהֶם אַשְׁבִּיתָה מֵאֱנוֹשׁ זִכְרָם
"[amRti] afAihem asBita m'eNosh zcRom." On hearing this, Abner repented, and mended his ways.
Even though Abner had strayed far from the path of observance, his name was nevertheless recorded in the Torah with his title, Reb* Abner, referring to his status as a fully observant Jew, after he had returned – for this was indeed his true essence.
[see Gutnick Chumash Devarim p. 244]
*the Rebbe pointed out that the third letter of the first word in the verse amRti is a 'reish' which is used as an abbreviation for Reb
Reb Shlomo 2
You – Make Hashem’s Name Great
At the beginning of our parsha this week we find the following verse stated by Moshe Rabbeinu to the B'nai Yisrael: כִּי שֵׁם ה' אֶקְרָא: הָבוּ גֹדֶל, לֵאלֹקינוּ
"When I pronounce Ad-noy's name, give greatness to our G-d." Verse 3:
In RASHI's COMMENTARY we learn: Verse 3: When I pronounce Ad-noy's name.
"KI" is used to denote "when," as in "When you arrive in the land." When I make a pronouncement and mention Ad-noy's name, you must attribute magnificence to our G-d and bless His name. From here we derive that one responds ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד "May the Name of His glorious kingdom be blessed" [or better, as Reb Zalman z"l translated it "Through time and space, Your glory shines, our blessed King."] after a blessing in the Beis Hamikdosh.”
The Torah commentators explain that from here we learn that Hashem asks of us to participate making Hashem's Name great in the world. King David says, "V'attah Kadosh yoshev tehillot Yisrael." You the Holy One, sit upon [the throne created by] the praises of Yisrael.
We find a very fascinating story in the Talmud that took place with Hashem and Rebbe Yishmael Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, one Yom Kippur.
"It was taught: R. Ishmael b. Elisha says: I once entered into the innermost part [of the Sanctuary] to offer incense and saw Akathriel Jah, the Lord of Hosts, seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to me: Ishmael, My son, bless Me! I replied: May it be Thy will that Thy mercy may suppress Thy anger and Thy mercy may prevail over Thy other attributes, so that Thou mayest deal with Thy children according to the attribute of mercy and mayest, on their behalf, stop short of the limit of strict justice! And He nodded to me with His head. Here we learn [incidentally] that the blessing of an ordinary man must not be considered lightly in your eyes. [Brachot 7a]
The Ishbitzer Rebbe explains that Hashem desires our blessings and prayer, because we have a very amazing relationship with Him. Hashem has actually given us a share and role in determining how and to what extent He will manifest in this world that we live in. G-d is the total reality, and at the same time we can help determine to some extent the degree of Divine revelation as well as which of Hashem's attributes will be revealed in our lives.
Sincerely answering Amen upon hearing a blessing actually does magnify Hashem's presence in this world. When someone asks, "How are you?" and we respond with sincerity, "Baruch Hashem, well," we are not only sanctifying Hashem's Name, we are also helping the Divine Presence manifest in a revealed manner in this world