This portion of Torah is the so-called Song of Moses. Ha’azinu, literally “give me your ear” ! Moses finishes his farewell sermons with his song. In poetic form he discusses again the curious relationship of the Israelies with their God. He reminds the people that they need to consult the elders (32:7), for they will tell you. A nod to institutional history and the phrase dor v’dor (the generations). God is the Rock (Ha’Tzur) warning , as always, against the worship of foreign gods. This is Moses’s “song”.
How interesting that it comes this year as the New Year dawns and we bridge the week between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The idea of the “song” is meaningful in so many ways for our generation. As we have discussed, and as the High Holiday liturgy reminds us, this is a season of reflection and contemplation. We are in the midst of moving from the closing of the gates on Yom Kippur to the renewal of Torah with Simchat Torah. The season begs us to consider our own song, what we shall sing in this comng year. That is, I suggest, a very powerful message that can emerge from this Torah portion. As the new year of 5780 dawns, what “song” shall we sing? Shall it be a song of renewal and creativity and hope, or one that, in dirge like fashion, locks us in to the past and the “waht if” of life.
The beauty of our Judaism is that it constantly renews itself. The shofar sounds these past weeks are not a symbol of the status quo, rather they are sounds to stir us to look ahead and, if needed, to not fear to sing a new song in this new year. Ha’azinu, listen world, listen soul of mine, a new year dawns and we can shape our life and seek to renew our sense of passion and wonder. What song shall each of us sing to ourselves and our world? Once agan, that choice is ours.
Shabbat shalom. G’mar Tov
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.