Haazinu 5780 – He Sang The Song That Made The Young Girls Cry

By: Larry Tobin

Haazinu Hashamayim Va’adaberah: “Incline your ear, O Heaven, and I will speak.”  This begins the song  that Moshe is instructed by G-d to prepare for the children of Israel. Why Haazinu rather than Shema?  The word haazin connotes a greater readiness to perceive and accept that which is being spoken than  does the word shema (to hear). Words can be heard without being followed. Moshe wants the Children  of Israel to understand that his song conveys a warning to them not to forsake G-d. He understood that   it is the nature of people to take good things for granted and complain when times are tough. G-d, he   notes, is perfect and His actions are perfect. All His ways are just even when we endure hardships. When  we turn away from G-d, have we forgotten that He made us and established us? Is this how you repay   G-d queries Moshe?

In verse 32:7, Moshe tells the people to remember the days of yore and to understand the years from  one generation and another. Ask your father so that he may tell you. Ask your elders so that they may  explain it to you. What exactly is Moshe trying to convey? The Midrash Rabbah, a commentary on the   Book of Deuteronomy, explains that whenever G-d brings suffering to you in this world, remember the  good things that He will give you in the next world. Isn’t that asking a lot of people? Are people really  expected to overlook their suffering by looking forward to good things in the World to Come?

The Chofetz Chaim was confronted with this question. He provided the following parable as an answer.  A Jew rented an apartment from the non-Jewish governor of the city. On an appointed date once per  year he would appear before the governor and pay the annual rental fee of 300 rubles. One year,   however, the governor was forced to leave town and appointed the deputy to manage things in his  absence.  The deputy was a well-known Jew hater. When the Jew came to pay rent, the deputy advised  him that the rent had been raised from 300 to 500 rubles. The Jew only had 480 rubles and pleaded for time to raise the additional 20 rubles. The deputy warned him to pay 500 rubles by the end of the day  or face the consequences. Despite his best efforts, the Jew was not able to come up with the additional  20 rubles. He returned at the end of the day and paid 480 rubles to the deputy. The deputy then  ordered that the Jew receive 20 lashes — one for each missing ruble. When the governor returned to  the city, the Jew informed him of what had occurred. The governor was furious. He returned the 180  ruble overpayment to the Jew and provided 2000 rubles compensation for the lashes the Jew had  received. The deputy had recently built a new home having a value of 4000 rubles. He ordered the  deputy to sign over a deed to the Jew making the Jew a one-half owner of his home. When the Jew  returned home, he was noticeably sullen. His wife asked him what was wrong and he explained what  had taken place at his meeting with the governor. The wife was confused. “Why aren’t you bursting with  joy?”, she asked. The Jew responded that he was sad that the deputy had not given him 40 lashes. This is how it is with us, concluded the Chofetz Chaim. When a person endures hardship and suffering in this  life he becomes very distraught. When he arrives in the World to Come and becomes aware of the  enormous reward he has earned for enduring his suffering, he may regret that he did not suffer even  more.

G-d advises Moshe that the time for him to die has come. He tells Moshe to go to the top of Mount  Nebo before he dies so that he can look down on Canaan, the land to be given to the Children of Israel.  Moshe is surely disappointed, but he doesn’t complain. Moshe is never seen again.

Good Shabbos.

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