Haazinu – Out on our own


Music for those times – Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky (Naxos Records)

1 Hear ye universe for I speak! The earth will hear the things I utter! …

Deuteronomy 32

19 YHWH observed his sons and daughters who made him angry. 20 Saying: I will hide myself from them – seeing what becomes of them because they are a treacherous generation with no faithfulness in them. 21 They made me jealous with an anti-god; they have harassed me with their pettiness; so, I will make them jealous with an anti-people – I will harass them with a despicable nation. …

Deuteronomy 32

We are the People of Israel guided and nurtured by Moses in the desert. As we look up above us and around us, we are aware of the seismic changes that have begun to affect us. We feared hearing these final words of his even before they were articulated. But who was Moses addressing from the beginning? Was he like a whirlwind spinning through space at that moment? These are not words of comfort from a loving parent that will make the coming separation easier to bear. This time, Moses spoke eloquently, leaving us to tremble at the impact of his rebuke.

15 Jeshurun became fat and kicked – became fat, thick, gross; it abandoned God its creator, it lost interest in the rock of its salvation. … 19 YHWH saw and castigated his sons and his daughters out of anger.

Deuteronomy 32

Hard words, words of terror, torrents of dread from a man who claimed he could not speak. We are alone; we are weak, confused and still trembling. How can we go on with such dismaying words transmitted to us? Will we always lose the struggle within ourselves to attain the moral and ethical high ground? Where and how will we find guidance without Moses?

16 They [1]the children of Israel answered Joshua saying: all that you have commanded us we will do and wherever you send us we will go. 17 As we have obeyed Moses, so will we obey you – only YHWH, your God, will be with you as with Moses.

Joshua 1

We had to be strong enough to take heed those fateful words recited by Moses. Even as Joshua, our new leader, took us across the Jordan River, he too reminded us of all of these words. Looking back before moving forward can be so confusing. Does the past really aid us as we face the future from slavery to desert wandering to settling in the “Promised Land” and beyond?

The time to take up the challenge had come even before Moses died. We were intended to make it our own. This is the situation we face in every generation, how to continue in the face of changing circumstances and without the leader we knew from the beginning of our journey. The choice was made in every generation and so it resonates into the future.

19 I have made you my witnesses on this day – the cosmos and the earth – life and death I presented before your, the blessing and the curse. So, choose life in order that you and your descendants will live!

Deuteronomy 30

Let us call out as we go on together, in unison with our ancestors as it was on their journey:

11 Please guide me YHWH in your way and lead me on the even path due to my adversaries.

Psalm 27

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

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1 the children of Israel