July 16, 2024 ~ Shabbat BALAQ. Maqam MAHOUR.

Shabbat Haazinu - שבת האזינו

Maqam HOSENI (Shabbat Shuba) / NAHWAND (Pre-Sukot)

Trust in God

הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דבריו משפט - In the song of "Haazinu," Moses makes some difficult assertions. In praise of God, the Rock (הצור), Moses claims that "His doings are perfect" (תמים פעלו), "ALL His ways are just" (כי כל דרכיו משפט), He is a "dependable deity" (אל אמונה), "never wrong" (ואין עול), "correct and upright" (צדיק וישר הוא). The reason that Deuteronomy 32:4 is among the Torah's most difficult verses is because, unfortunately, reality, at times, does not truly reflect this description. To consider things, such as terrorism, hurricanes, or cancer, to be considered "perfect" or "just" is incomprehensible. For the problem of theodicy, we must accept that, as humans, we don't have the answers to these problems, but trust that God does. Even if we don't understand why evil happens to the innocent, as a matter of faith, we believe that God has a fair and just reason for everything that takes place in the world. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 23, 2017.


זכר ימות עולם בינו שנות דר ודר - A cynical 10th grade student once asked Mr Howard Rothbort, a Yeshivah of Flatbush history teacher, "Why do we need to learn history?" Days later, Mr Rothbort responds to this question by inserting the following biblical verse from Haazinu into his PowerPoint presentation. Deuteronomy 32:7 states "Remember the days of old, know the years of previous generations; ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain it to you." As Moses prepares to depart from the world, he relays a very valuable lesson. Moses encourages the Israelites to always be a step ahead in their lives by using history as their guide. History tends to repeat itself from one generation to the next, or in the words of Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In order to learn from mistakes of the past, the youth need to become students of history and not be afraid to ask questions to their elders. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 22, 2018.

Number of Lines

למספר - In Maimonides' Mishne Torah it states that Torah Scrolls must have "Shirat Haazinu" (Deuteronomy 32:1-43) written in 70 lines. Surprisingly, however, in the Aleppo Codex, the Tanakh upon which Maimonides (~1135-1204) stated he relied upon, it is written in only 67 lines. This discrepancy is not insignificant and is the source of great confusion. The Italian scholar, Professor Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951), who visited Aleppo in 1944 to study the Aleppo Codex, and seeing Haazinu in only 67 lines was misled to think that the Aleppo Codex was not the version relied upon by the Maimonides. Upon reviewing older Mishne Torah manuscripts, however, it was discovered that the actual number Maimonides mentioned is 67! Apparently the original text of the Mishne Torah had been corrupted. Today, despite knowing that 67 is the true number of lines for Haazinu, 70 lines is the practice in all our Torah Scrolls. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah Bulletin, October 12, 2019.

Our Father

הֲלוֹא־הוּא֙ אָבִ֣יךָ קָּנֶ֔ךָ - There was once a child who was lost in the wilderness. The stranded child had no supervision. This child was homeless, malnourished, and completely buried in trash. One day, an older, powerful, and wealthy individual found this child, had mercy on it, and adopted it. He provided this child with state-of-the-art security; as one would protect their precious jewels. Not only did he provide the minimum to sustain the child, but provided royal treatment; giving him the best luxuries life has to offer; fields of land, cattle, wine etc. With time, this child became obese, coarse, and spoiled from all the luxuries provided. Instead of acknowledging where everything came from, he spent all his time trying to create a public persona of him being "self-made." All day, this child would involve himself in activities that are opposed to his adopted father. The above story is an allegory with God being the older individual and Israel being the child. In Deuteronomy 32:6, Israel is referred to as "an ingrate nation and unwise," whereas God is referred to as "the Father who created you." It is important to educate future generations of children that the above story is their own history. Beth Torah Bulletin, September 26, 2020.

Maqam of the Week: MEHAYAR BAYAT

On Shabbat Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-52), which coincides with Shabbat Shuba, prayers are conducted in Maqam MEHAYAR-BAYAT according to the Red Pizmonim Book. MEHAYAR-BAYAT can be described as Maqam BAYAT with many mixed elements from the melodies of the High Holiday and Selihot melodies. HAZZANUT: Nishmat: Asham Vaza' Mezedonehu, Shavat Aniyim: Ya Hasdakh Gali (page 339), El Hahodaot: El Nora Alila, Qaddish: Ben Adama, Semehim: Lekha Eli, Mimisrayim: Ya Shema Ebyonekha, Naqdishakh: Elekha Hashem BAYAT. PIZMON SEFER TORAH: Shabti Shabti (page 151). ALIYOT: Aliyot stops form the acrostic "HAZIV LAKH;" the letters that begin each aliyah (32:1, 32:7, 32:13, 32:19, 32:29, 32:40).