There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Ha’Azinu Deuteronomy 32:1-52, aliyah by aliyah.
Aliyah 1: Deuteronomy 32:1-6
Deuteronomy 32:1 “Hear, oh heavens, as I speak!
Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth!
Heaven and Earth have been called as witnesses before, this seems to be an elaboration on that.
Deuteronomy 32:2 May my teaching fall like rain.
May my speech condense like dew,
like light rain on blades of grass,
or showers on growing plants.
Is the desire for the words to get through to the people like water or to aid in their growth and thriving? Probably both
Deuteronomy 32:3 “For I will proclaim the name of HaShem.
Come, declare the greatness of our G-d!
Why does it seem like Moshe is saying that the “name of HaShem” is a new thing? It isn’t. The Patriarchs knew it, so did the people.
Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock! His work is perfect,
for all his ways are just.
A trustworthy G-d who does no wrong,
he is righteous and straight.
What Is “perfection” in Hebrew or in HaShem’s mind? Is it about execution or intent?
Deuteronomy 32:5 He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children,
a crooked and perverted generation.
So many lose sight of this and blame “religion” or HaShem for the world being bad, when people who twist the Bible are the one’s to blame.
Deuteronomy 32:6 You foolish people, so lacking in wisdom,
is this how you repay HaShem?
He is your father, who made you his!
It was he who formed and prepared you!
Why does a parent deserve respect?
Aliyah 2: Deuteronomy 32:7-12
Deuteronomy 32:12 “HaShem alone led his people;
no alien god was with him.
Is the point of this that there are no other gods who deserve the credit for guiding Israel or that the people were not attached to other gods in the Wilderness?
Aliyah 3: Deuteronomy 32:13-18
Deuteronomy 32:13 He made them ride on the heights of the earth.
They ate the produce of the fields.
He had them suck honey from the rocks
and olive oil from the crags,
Is this just poetic? What honey? What oil?
Aliyah 4: Deuteronomy 32:19-28
Deuteronomy 32:26 ‘I considered putting an end to them,
erasing their memory from the human race;
The fact that HaShem considered blotting out Israel, but didn’t, suggests to me that will never happen.
Aliyah 5: Deuteronomy 32:29-39
Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, yes, I, am he;
and there is no god beside me.
I put to death, and I make alive;
I wound, and I heal;
no one saves anyone from my hand!
This suggests to me that the pain and suffering are only temporary and that HaShem’s will is to have Israel in active, healthy relationship with Him and that it will come to pass.
Aliyah 6: Deuteronomy 32:40-43
Deuteronomy 32:43 “Sing out, you nations, about his people!
For he will avenge the blood of his servants.
He will render vengeance to his adversaries
and make atonement for the land of his people.”
Why does the Land of Israel need atonement? What role do the nations have regarding Israel?.
Aliyah 7: Deuteronomy 32:44-52
Deuteronomy 32:47 For this is not a trivial matter for you; on the contrary, it is your life! Through it you will live long in the land you are crossing the Yarden to possess.
Torah is no curse, it is a blessing and a pathway to long life. How can anyone deny what HaShem said through Moshe to a people he knew would stumble and fall?
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
1. What is “the name of HaShem?”
2. What is “perfection” to the LORD?
3. If Torah is life, how can it be a curse?
That concludes my journey through Ha’Azinu for the year 5783.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.