Parashat Ha’azinu, Deuteronomy chapter 32

This Week’s Torah Portion   Week of 9/20/23. Our Torah portion is just one chapter, highlighting one of the famous poetic orations that Moses delivers to his people before his death. This is the final Torah portion before we enter into the Sukkot festival season, culminating with Simchat Torah, the reading and rejoicing of the Torah.   The opening word in chapter 32, ‘ha’azinu,’ is a second person, imperative form of the verb “to listen.” In this verbal (causative form) construction, the word means “to give ear,” that is, listen! Moses is speaking to his people and exhorting them to pay attention. This is one of the three unique poems in the Torah scroll. It is a didactic poem, packed with exhortations and scoldings, reminding his listeners how ungrateful they have been despite all of God’s endless displays of kindness and mercy. This poetic chapter is a “tzidduk ha-din,” a vindication of God’s ways as manifest in Israel’s history.    Since we are in the midst of the ten days of “return,” we have a special Haftorah from the book of Hosea, reminding us of our task to turn towards the Almighty and cleanse ourselves of our misdeeds.

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