Dvar Torah Parshat Haazinu 5775-2014

After the crossing the Sea of Reeds (the Red Sea) Moshe sang a song of praise to Hashem. Now, as the Israelites stand ready to cross into the Promised Land, he again sings a song of praise. Among the many tributes to Hashem for His blessings to our people, Moshe states: יַעֲרֹף כַּמָּטָר לִקְחִי תִּזַּל כַּטַּל אִמְרָתִי, “May my teaching drop like the rain, may my utterance flow like the dew…”. (Deut. 32,2) The Zohar teaches that the rain refers to the Written Torah and the dew to the Oral Torah. What is the connection between rain and dew to the Torah?

Rabbi Moshe Zevi Neriah, who is considered the founder of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva movement in Israel, offers a unique answer to this question. After the farmer plants his seeds the rains come. An onlooker sees the water seep into the ground and thinks to himself, this water will serve no purpose. It sank into the earth and is gone. Later the vegetation springs through the ground, grows and offers its wonderful produce. Only then one realizes the benefit of the rain.

The same is true with the study of Torah. Often a student studies Torah and we see no benefit derived from it. It seems that it had no effect on the student. And behold, after some period of time, maybe months or even years, it suddenly appears that the teachings were not in vain. They accomplished their intention and eventually they bear fruit. They were like the rain and like the dew.

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Dvar Torah Parshat Haazinu 5773 2013

Our Sidra ends with Hashem’s instructions to Moshe to ascend Mt. Nevo to see the Promised Land for he will not enter there physically. The Torah says: Hashem spoke to Moshe, בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, “…on this very day…”. (Deut. 32,48) Of course this was the day Moshe was to die.

Rashi points out the three places in Scriptures that the expression בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה “on this very day” is found. It is used, in the story of the flood, at the time the Israelites left Egypt and at the death of Moshe. In each of these cases the people said they would not allow it to happen. Hashem then carried out His intention. בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, which means in broad day light. He thwarted their intentions.

We can understand that the intent of the people during the flood was to prevent the people from entering the Ark and destroying it. During the Exodus their objective was to prevent the people from leaving even if they had to resort to killing them. What could they have done to prevent Moshe from dying?

The answer is they could have prayed. We know prayer can annul an evil decree. That is why when a person is sick we recite aמי שברך . They could have done so but did not. Hence Moshe died on that day in broad day light.

In our day we see many atrocities throughout the world and we often can prevent them but we don’t. We must be more sensitive and every individual must do as much as one can to avert them.

Dvar Torah Parshat Haazinu 5773 2012

Our Sidra ends with Hashem’s instructions to Moshe to ascend Mt. Nevo to see the Promised Land for he will not enter there physically. The Torah says: Hashem spoke to Moshe, בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, “…on this very day…”. (Deut. 32,48) Of course this was the day Moshe was to die.

Rashi points out three places in Scriptures the expression בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה “on this very day”. It is used, in the story of the flood, at the time the Israelites left Egypt and at the death of Moshe. In each of these cases the people said they would not allow it to happen. Hashem then carried out His intention. בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, which means in broad day light. He thwarted their intentions.

We can understand that the intent of the people during the flood was to prevent the people from entering the Ark and destroying it. During the Exodus their objective was to prevent the people from leaving even if they had to resort to killing them. What could they have done to prevent Moshe from dying?

The answer is they could have prayed. We know prayer can annul an evil decree. That is why when a person is sick we recite aמי שברך . They could have done so but did not. Hence Moshe died on that day in broad day light.

In our day we see many atrocities throughout the world and we often can prevent them but we don’t. We must be more sensitive and every individual must do as much as one can to avert them.

Dvar Torah Parshat Haazinu 5771 2011

Many people have the philosophy to live for today. The past does not count and future generations should worry about what will be then. Moshe disputes this thinking and tells us specifically: ZECHOR YEMOT OLAM BINU SHNOT DOR VADOR, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations…”. (Deut. 32,7)

Moshe tells us how important it is to know the past and to understand why things happened as they did. History is a very important subject for it teaches us how to avoid the mistakes of the past in the future. We must recognize a pattern in man’s behavior and the consequences of his actions. We do not live in a vacuum. Whatever we do has an enormous effect on the direction civilization takes and on what happens in this world.

Furthermore, Moshe ends the verse and says; SHE’AL AVICHA VEYAGEDCHA ZEKENECHA VEYOMRU LACH, “… ask your father and he will relate to you and your elders and they will tell you.” It is an undesirable trend today for children to down-play the advice and the teachings of their parent and elders. They accuse them of being old fashioned and outdated. Moshe again contradicts this attitude and counsels us to take their advice and their teachings. They have years of experience and why not listen to them and not make mistakes and “re-invent the wheel”?

Dvar Torah Parshat HaAzinu 5771 2010

Moshe is talking to Bnei Israel and says: YA’AROF KAMATAR LIKCHI, TIZAL KATAL IMRATI, “May my teaching drop like the rain may my utterance flow like the dew…”. (Deut. 32,2). Moshe is obviously referring to the Torah. He compares the Torah to rain and to dew. What is the difference between the two? What is Moshe’s message?

The Seforno, printed in many editions of the Hebrew bible, proposes an interesting explanation why these two allegories are used. Rain comes down with force. This is how the Torah should come to the intellectuals, to the knowledgeable, to the scholars. They are to be given all they can take.

For the less educated the Torah should come like the dew, easily, subtly, hardly noticeably. Such individuals are to absorb the Torah in small amounts.

This is a great lesson for teachers and for parents. Not every child is the same. Everyone has different capabilities. Some need to be fed much knowledge and may be given it at a fast pace. Others require a slower speed.
Everyone needs to be taught according to their own tempo.

A statement in Proverbs (22,6) may be understood to be saying this thought. The proverb reads: CHANOCH LANA’AR AL PI DARKO, “Train a child in the way he should go…”. The word DARKO could be translated “according to his way”, meaning according to his ability.

Dvar Torah Haazinu 5770 (2009) Shabbat Shuva – Yom kippur just days away

Many people have the philosophy of live for today. The past does not count and let the future generations worry about what will be then. Moshe disputes this thinking and tells us specifically: ZECHOR YEMOT OLAM BINU SHNOT DOR VADOR, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations…”. (Deut. 32,7)

Moshe tells us how important it is to know the past and to understand why things happened as they did. History is a very important subject for it teaches us how to avoid the mistakes of the past. We must recognize a pattern in man’s behavior and the consequences of his actions. We do not live in a vacuum. Whatever we do has an enormous effect on the direction civilization takes and on what happens in this world.

Furthermore, Moshe ends the verse and says; SHE’AL AVICHA VEYAGEDCHA ZEKENECHA VEYOMRU LACH, “… ask your father and he will relate to you and your elders and they will tell you.” It is a regrettable trend today for children to down-play the advice and the teachings of their parents and elders. They accuse them of being old fashion and outdated. Moshe contradicts this attitude as well and counsels us to take their advice and their teachings. They have years of experience, so why should we make mistakes and “re-invent the wheel”?

Dvar Torah Parshat HaAzinu 2008 5769 דבר תורה פרשת האזינו

Moshe tells our people: YA’AROF KAMATAR LIKCHI TIZAL KATAL IMRATI, : “May my teaching drop like the rain, may my utterance flow like the dew…”. ( Deut. 32,2) Moshe is referring, of course, to the Torah. He uses two different metaphors. The Torah shall come down like rain and like dew. Rain comes down forcefully, dew serenely

The Sforno gives an interesting explanation for the two different comparisons. For the knowledgeable and learned the Torah can come vigorously, with intensity and with great detail. For those not so learned it must come in moderation and in less detail and greater generalization.

This is an extremely important lesson for teachers, for parents and for that matter, for everyone trying to convey a point to others. One must know to whom they are talking, what their ability of understanding is and how readily they are to accept the intended message. They must then convey it appropriately.