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By: Rav Aharon E. Wexler

Once again, it is plain old Shabbat. We just finished Rosh HaShanah and preparing now for Yom Kippur, yet the funny thing is that plain old, once a week Shabbat is holier than either of them!


Shabbat, is the oldest holiday going back to creation itself. And this Shabbat, Shabbat Shuva, we read the Parsha of Ha’azinu.


Two songs are attributed to Moshe Rabbeinu; Shirat HaYam and Hazzinu, and although they seem very different, the underlying theme in them both is Israel’s survival. At the sea, Moshe sings in triumph of the salvation witnessed in the water and now Moshe summons heaven and earth as witnesses at the borders of the Promised Land as he sings of hope in Israel survival in the Holy Land.


Moshe is famous for his tireless defense of the Jewish people. Yet in contrast to the rest of the Torah what makes Haazinu so striking is that it does not criticize God at all. In fact it seems to explain God and justify his actions as he declares:


‘El Emuna V’Ein Avel Tzaddik V’yashar Hu’, A God of faith, there is no evil; Righteous and fair is He.


A far cry from Avraham’s yelling ‘HaShofet Kol Haaretz Lo Ya’aseh Mishpat’, The Judge of the universe won’t do Justice????


What causes this change in Moshe’s perspective??


I think the answer lies in the fact that 40 years have gone by and now at 120 Moshe has a more mature understanding of God’s ways, much like a child who only learns how good his parents were when he himself becomes an adult.


The American writer Mark Twain once said something similar when he wrote: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”


Now as he is about to die Moshe understands his Father’s ways and declares the benefit of his teachings to Am Yisrael.


Yet, the need for Moshe to address the people and make a farwell speech is sad. Moshe not getting into Eretz Yisrael was a theme that always bothered me.


That was until I read something David Hartman said: “Only those who aim low accomplish all they desire and that one man’s unfinished work may be infinitely greater and more beneficial than another’s completed task.”


David HaMelech never got to build the Beit Hamikdash, Eliyahu never reformed Israel, Judah HaMacabee was killed in the middle of the Channukah story, Herzl and Jabotinsky never lived to see Ben-Gurion declare the state.


We have to remember what the Sages said: 'Lo Alecha Hamlacha Ligmor.' and being that this is Sahbabt Shuva, I will apply that adage to teshuva; perhaps you do not have to finish doing teshuva but neither are you free to desist from it!


Shabbat Shalom




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