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YIP Parsha Project Parshat Haazinu

09/28/2014 03:30:22 AM


YIP Parsha Project


Haazinu                                                                        Marlene Horowitz


Shirat Haazinu, the song of Haazinu, is different from other shirim in the Tanach. Most other songs in the Tanach were composed to commemorate a specific event. In Shirat Haazinu, Moshe’s last speech before he dies, he reprimands the Jews as well as gives them a view into the future. He asks the heavens and earth to witness his words. Significantly, this parsha falls out on Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbos between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur or on the Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

 Another unique aspect of Haazinu is described in the Gemara. Shirat Haazinu was recited by the Leviim, one part at a time in a six week cycle, as they brought the mussaf sacrifice. These 6 parts are the same divisions that we used for the aliyot of the parsha. This division is referred to by the mnemonic, ,הזיו לך, each letter standing for the first letter of the aliyah. Usually, an aliyah begins and ends on a positive note, but that is not the case. Each of these aliyot ends with words of reprimand, designed to inspire Teshuva.

According to Sforno, the six aliyot teach us that Hashem is just, what Hashem had done for the Jews in the past, how the Jews rebelled, Hashem sends an enemy, then eventually the Jews do Teshuva, and finally, through Teshuva, we will merit the ultimate redemption. This is all due to the strong relationship between Hashem and the Jews. 

Moshe uses beautiful poetic language to describe this bond with the nation.  We are described as His children.  Another pasuk says that Hashem’s portion is his people.  Yet another verse notes that Hashem cares for us as a pupil of His eye.  However, the Jews turn away from Hashem. Hashem then turns from his people, until they do Teshuva.  In chap.32 v.39, Bnei Yisrael will see that Hashem is the one to believe in.  This explains the special relevance of the reading of this parsha either on Shabbos Shuva or the following Shabbos.

We still have the question of why this portion was read by the Leviim on Shabbos along with the musaf sacrifice.  One answer is that this parsha connects Judaism’s dots.  We have Shabbos as recognition for all that Hashem has given us, from creation onward.  Shabbos is our covenant. It is appropriate to read Shirat Haazinu since it highlights Hashem’s bond with the Jews and our observance of Shabbos is part of the fulfillment of our role in the relationship.


This was based on an article written by Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, “Write for yourselves this poem”.

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