This Week’s Torah Portion – Parashat Ha’azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-52)

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This week we study Parashat Ha’azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-52).

* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “The rebellion of Jews against God’s covenant brings with it the rebellion against decency and common sense that reflects itself in the continuance of persecution from the rest of the world.”

“…the Jewish penchant to adopt the latest cultural and societal fads.”

Whether it is gay rights or green jobs or animal rights or anti-nuke movement, you’ll find secular Jews there.

* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “The final song of Moshe is the main subject of this week’s parsha. It is a dark one to contemplate. Though it promises a happy ending for Israel, at the end it outlines a long list of travail and challenges, tragedies and losses on the way. Moshe raises but does not answer the underlying question of Jewish history: Why are the people of Israel apparently fated to suffer such continuing calamities?”

* Rabbi Berel Wein writes: “Haazinu means to listen, to pay attention, to concentrate, if you will. The Torah often emphasizes the value of listening.”

* Rabbi Wein writes: “Judaism sees the Jewish people as the experiment that will prove the entire theory of mankind and civilization to be possible and correct. In order for the experiment to work correctly it requires a certain exclusivity, a sterile laboratory if you will, uncontaminated by outside sources and influences. Yet the purpose of this experiment is to prove that all mankind is able to serve God and man and that human civilization can achieve a better world in spite of all setbacks and heartaches.”

* They don’t write songs like Haazinu anymore.

* God says, no fatties! (Deut. 32:15)

* As someone who has always belonged to a traditional religious community and yet has a personality that puts himself on the margins of every community he joins, I’m particularly sensitive to things that bind people together. Judaism binds people together better than anything I know. You have religious rituals such as thrice-daily prayer in a quorum (minyan). You have learning. You have shared cultural and gastronomic ties. You have a national identity and you have your own country in Israel.

The tie between a rabbi and his congregant can be very close. So Joshua was like Moshe’s follower. A teacher and a student.

You don’t learn Judaism only through books. In fact, the biggest determinant of whether or not you flourish in Judaism is your ability to read social cues and to adapt accordingly. Many converts to Judaism flourish and many fail on just this matter.

According to the Talmud, if you’ve never served a Talmud scholar, you’re ignorant. I remember helping this rabbi on many occasions. He was aware of many of my foibles. He told me that I would get into the world to come for my service to him.

You need to have a rebbe, a teacher.

You can’t read your way to success in Jewish life. You can’t just observe your way to success. You have to read social cues. You have to earn a good living. You have to get married and to have kids and to integrate into a community. There are many things you will learn from your rabbi that won’t be obvious in books. A master teacher will read between the lines (Rabbi Ari Kahn).

* Who wouldn’t want a beautiful blonde cantor who sings like an angel?

* Can you forgive everyone who hurt you over the past year?

* You can’t be a truly righteous man unless you are straight. It’s so nice to deal with someone who’s straight. You can learn a lot of Torah and not be straight.

* Are my creative days behind me?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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