Sept. 21/22 Ha’azinu – Deut. 32:1-32:52

Our Torah portion this week is Ha’azinu – Deut. 32:1-32:52; it is Moses’ farewell song to the Israelites, a final reminder of their relationship with God and the consequences of not keeping God’s expectations before them.  Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb teaches that the word “Ha’azinu” means to listen, through the ozen – the ear.  Ha’azinu is different from Sh’ma — where Sh’ma means to hear, Ha’azinu suggests a more sustained listening, something that requires effort and persistence.  Through Moses’ words, we are invited to tune in and listen, to become receptive.
The High Holy Days began and ended with hearing the sound of the shofar.  The mitzvah is not in the blowing of the shofar, but is the hearing of the shofar.  The book of Jonah, read Yom Kippur afternoon, tells the story of a prophet who heard God’s voice, but refused to listen, and ironically, was angered when the people of Nineveh did!
Now Ha’azinu comes, inviting us to listen.  To listen to each other… to the quiet of nature… to sounds beyond ear-shot… and to God’s voice.  The prophet Elijah taught us that God’s voice is not to be found in the wind… or the fire… or an earthquake… but in “kol d’m’ma daka” – a still, small voice. asking us: “Ayecha?” – “Where are you? Who are you?”  It is hard to really listen if our ears are constantly connected to earphones or smart phones…