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Thought for the Day: Ha'azinu

Since I've started doing shtayim mikra v'echad targum (reading the parsha twice, followed by reading targum Onkelos), I always start out by checking out how many p'sukim I have this week.  It's like my own little s'gula.  Parshas Ha'azinu only has 52 p'sukim, so the first time through I thought, "Whew... this will be a snap!"  Once I started, of course, I found that it is comprised almost entirely of words that were even too hard for the Navi'im.  Oh yes, and it's poetry, so even reading any of the various English translations doesn't help much.  Then there is are teacher, Rashi.  Rashi in uncharacteristically expansive; another indication that you are in for quite a ride.  And then... then... as you near the end of the parsha, you see way more Rashi than can possibly be "p'shat" in the remaining p'sukim.  As it turns out, that is correct.  Rashi springs on you that even the tanaim had issues with Ha'azinu; leaving us with unresolved pair complementary explanations, one from R' Yehuda, one from R' Nechemya.  Not wanting to take sides, it turns out that all that Rashi at the end of the parsha is too much for just the remaining p'sukim.  Rashi has been explaining it all along according to R' Yehuda, now he goes back and explains it according to R' Nechemya.  Besides all that, the aliyos of the parsha are very precisely positioned to match with the poetic intent. Will the fun never end?

It turns out, explains, the S'porno, that Moshe Rabeinu wants to explain that HaShem is all good and wants nothing other than the closest possible relationship with His magnum opus -- the Jewish people.  The S'porno helps by giving us a brief overview of each section to we can see the progression.
  1. HaShem tried to get all of humanity involved, but on Klal Yisrael stood up to accept the relationship and merited thereby the entire focus of HaShem's attention.
  2. HaShem provided a home, Eretz Yisrael, for His beloved nation to be able to live in joy and excitement, benefiting from HaShem's overwhelming kindness.
  3. It was only our own sins (read: lack of appreciation) that has caused us to fall into the traps of the umos ha'olam again and again.
  4. Moshe Rabeinu then explains that there will be a redemption and why HaShem still wants us.
  5. Finally, how to achieve that final redemption and making known to us that HaShem will extract vengeance on our enemies; which are also His enemies.
I find that poetry, once understood, brings an added dimension of deep emotional stirrings that cannot be expressed nor felt any other way.  It takes work, but the benefit are well worth the struggle.


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