Commentary on Parashat Ha'Azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1 - 32:52
After Moses‘ last speech to the children of Israel, God tells Moses to write down a song to teach to the Israelites. “Put this song in their mouths,” God says, “so that the words may become a witness for Me against them. After I bring them to the land that flows with milk and honey, they will eat and be satisfied and become obese. They will turn to other gods and serve them and mock Me and break My covenant. Then when many oppressive evils come upon them, this song will testify against them as witness.”
On that day, Moses wrote down the song and taught it to the children of Israel.
“…God of trust and no violence,
Righteous and upright is God.
But the children of God are so persistent in their crookedness,
they are so corrupt.
Ask yourselves, “Is this how you repay God?”
O people withered and in no way wise!
Is God not your Father Who calls you The Almighty’s own?
Did God not form you when God gave you your purpose?
Israel, also known as Jacob, is the lot of God’s inheritance.
…God surrounds him, instructs him, watches over him
as the apple of God’s eye.
Then Israel became overwhelmed with fat
and forsook God Who had made him
and regarded as worthless the Rock of God’s salvation.
They impaired God’s rights with alien gods
Angering God with abominations.
They made offerings to demons, non-gods,
Deities of whom they knew nothing,
New deities whom your fathers never dreaded.
…God saw this and turned away in disdain and said,
ÎI will hide My face from My sons and daughters.
…I could make their memory disappear from among mankind
but the oppressors of the Israelites could misunderstand
They might say, “Our hand is high;
It is not God that caused all this!”
God will judge God’s people
and reveal God’s changed decree concerning God’s servants.
See now that I am indeed “I”
And there is no god beside Me;
I kill and restore life;
I have inflicted wounds, and I will heal
Nothing can be snatched from My hand.
Therefore O nations, make God’s people’s lot a happy one,
For God will avenge the blood of God’s servants
And God will turn back vengeance upon God’s enemies,
And God’s people will atone for God’s world.”
On that same day, God spoke to Moses saying, “Go up to this Mountain of Transitions, to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, facing Jericho, and see the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel as a possession. Die on the mountain and be gathered there to your people, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
“You must die because you trespassed against Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of contention in Kadesh, in the wilderness of Tzin; because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the sons of Israel. For only from afar shall you see the Land; you will not come there, not to the land that I am giving to the sons of Israel.”
Parshat Ha’azinu Discussion Questions
1) What does God mean when God says song will be a “witness” against the people of Israel? Does this song serve as a “witness” to the Jews today? How?
2) Describe the “children of Israel” in this song. Is this how you perceive yourself and your fellow Jews today? In what ways?
3) Describe “God” in this song. Is this how you perceive God today?
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!