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[Dvar Torah] Ha’azinu

Parashat Ha’azinu mainly consists of a song by Moshe delivered on the very last day of his life. Moshe sings about the experiences shared between him and the Jewish people, starting with a reminder about how G-d has taken care of the Jewish people, before shifting to criticism of all the Jewish people’s mistakes. It then goes on to address G-d’s anger towards the Jewish people for their sins. The song finishes, however, with the reminder that G-d will always return to the Jewish people, despite their mistakes.

In our Parsha Moshe speaks about the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people, relating this to the shared relationship between a father and his children:

Is He not your father, who created you . . .? (Deut. 32: 6)

According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks OBM,  “…the single most important metaphor of the Torah is that G-d is a parent and we are his children.” In the beginning, G-d tended the people, newly released from slavery, as if they were his children. He rescued them from their oppressors, led them safely through the sea, gave them food and drink, and protected them against their enemies. But like a responsible parent, he wanted them to mature, to learn to fight their own battles, and to become responsible agents themselves. 

These are deeply felt sentiments and reflect the character of time as it functions in the Bible: time as linear rather than cyclical, an arena of growth and development rather than eternal recurrence. One of the known prayers of the High Holidays is "Avinu Malkeinu". A prayer that starts with the words "Our Father, our King". It is one of our most prominent and most passionately and powerfully recited tefilot (prayers) in the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. In fact, the same is true during the very last moments of Ne’ilah, which is the climax prayer of Yom Kippur and of the 40 days of awe and unique closeness to Hashem. 

There are many stories and parables that all end with someone for example, being petrified of a major court case as they walk into the courtroom. When the judge makes his appearance, they breathe a huge sigh of relief when they see that the judge is their father. Although the judgment of every aspect of our lives and that of our loved ones is being sealed on Yom Kippur, the Judge is our loving Father. He chose us as His Nation and He loves us more than we can imagine. He is also Malkeinu – the King of all kings. He is All-Powerful and All-Capable. Nothing is beyond His abilities.

Regardless of which line of Avinu Malkeinu we are currently saying, what we are asking for is in the hands of our loving, All-Powerful Father. Now that Yom Kippur has passed and we acknowledge this understanding, we can rejoice and celebrate Sukkot with the confidence of Hashem's love. We are invited into the Sukka where His presence dwells. For seven days we celebrate, concluding the Days of Awe and showing gratitude for what we have achieved together with hope for the future.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

Eden, Grade 11