This week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, is the song Moses composes and delivers to Israel. He worries about Israel’s welfare, and the nation’s struggle with God. Moses repeatedly warns Israel never to underestimate their inclination to deny God, nor God’s response.
At the same time, we are at the threshold of the holiday of Sukkot, the time we celebrate following God in the wilderness and learning of Divine Love and Divine Protection. It is the time we built our relationship with God.
These two messages sit side by side this Shabbat. As Jews, we always struggle with understanding God, and the demands of our Judaism. At the same time, we celebrate that same relationship, those same challenges and demands.
Moses’ worry is that we won’t keep the values of Torah close to our hearts. He refers to it as ‘this song’. He worries we will not teach our children to sing the song of Torah. Of all our leaders, Moses saw firsthand that if the generational chain is not well established, it can begin to disappear – Moses witnessed this in Egypt as slavery took its toll.
Interestingly, another name for the holiday of Sukkot is ‘Zman Simchateinu’, the Time of Our Joy’. The name itself speaks directly of the message Moses is expressing. His warnings are dire, and the picture he paints is stark, but he always stresses how Torah must be inherited, taught, sung, and enjoyed.
Through the prophets, God stated how sweet the memory is of our time together in the wilderness, when we followed God with complete trust – when we expressed ‘chesed’ to God in our youth, when we dwelled in our Sukkot.
Moses worried we wouldn’t understand how important Torah is in our lives. When we sit in a Sukkah, we assure him we won’t ever forget.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.
Shabbat shalom and Chag Sukkot Sameach,