Haazinu; Shirah As a brief introduction, I’m relatively sure that the following did not come from me, but I equally fail to remember where it came from. Therefore, even if what I am about to suggest the word ‘shirah’ connotes is not correct, the concept of ‘connecting seemingly disparate parts’ certainly is. Hopefully all will be made clear… Basically, the question is what exactly is ‘shirah’ in general, with specific reference to this week’s famous shirah of haazinu? So let’s back-track a little…at the end of last week’s sedra, HaShem reveals to Moshe that Bnei Yisrael will worship idols in the future, and gives Moshe a shirah to give to the BY to accompany them and somewhat prevent this future spiritual fall. The idea that is about to be brought out is rooted in the Rashbam (31;19) who writes the words ‘siddur devarim karuy shirah’ ie ‘the putting things into an order is called shirah.’ This effectively means that not only is a shirah an ordering of different parts, but it is thus also a forming of many disparate parts into one whole. [essentially every ordering of things connects them; our seder night on Pesach orders the steps of the single seder.] We see this generally in music, that the variety of notes and instruments come together to form one single piece of music; they come together to form one whole. In a wider sense this is the goal of the Bnei Yisrael as a whole - to be living testimony to HaShem’s Oneness and connect the seemingly disparate parts of the world as coming from One single Creator. This is a reason given as to why the letters Shin and Daled that sandwich Shema Yisrael…Echad in the torah are enlarged, for it spells eid (witness) in telling us to be living witness to HaShem’s Oneness. Thus, Bnei Yisrael have the word yashar in their 2 names - Yeshurun and Yisrael, for yashar means straightness; keeping to one straight path. When one is on a straight path one can see where it originated from and where it is heading to; that is our job in the world in testifying to HaShem’s Malchus over the world and consequently to the world’s start, end, and everything connecting those two points too. And evil is always described as a winding/bending path, for it is the attempted disconnection of the world from seeing its Creator. And thus the word shirah also has the letters yashar and Heh (HaShem), indicating this theme in shirah of connecting seemingly disparate parts to one Origin. (so too does Teshuva comprise of tashuv HaShem - return to HaShem - by the way.) (R Tatz) In fact, the shirah itself is written in the Torah like this - with two separate columns, each with halves of the pesukim, giving us a visual demonstration of this theme. Furthermore, the fact that the shirah describes future pains and suffering of the Bnei Yisrael reflects this too; that even in the bad times, when things look very different from our nation’s former glory in their relationship with HaShem, HaShem is always watching over us . And so too does the gemarra (Pesachim 50a) say that HaShem’s malchus will be one of ’oneness’ on that day when we say the same bracha for good and bad news, ie when we recognise fully that both emanate from Him - again connection of parts back to their Source. In a similar vein we are told (kesuvos 7b) that even babies in their mothers’ womb sung shirah on the yam suf for such was the level of revelation of HaShem that people could say ‘zeh keli ve’anveihu.’ Perhaps this can also explain exactly why this shirah is the antidote to Avodah Zarah. Avodah Zarah is the worship of bodies other than HaShem. The Rambam notes that it started with people worshipping the moon, starts, etc ; the things HaShem uses. They figured that ’since HaShem gives kavod to these things,’ so must we. And eventually the generations started worshipping them. (hil avodah zarah 1;1). What was their initial mistake? It was that in worshipping the ‘emissaries,’ they were really worshipping that which the emissary provided (eg for the sun the were worshipping the light), and really therefore were worshipping themselves - since they wanted the light then they worshipped it. Note that many idols are human sculptures or models - for idol worship is worship of the self. If one worships the goods then one worships themselves, but if one worships the real Source of those goods, then the worship is not focussed on wanting the goods, but on the Source Himself. Avodah Zarah is the ultimate breaking down of the world into disparate parts in focussing on the separate goods themselves; in the ancient world this was reflected in having many different gods. Thus, a shirah, whose message is the connection of the disparate parts is the dichotomy of avodah zarah and hence its antidote. And perhaps Rosh HaShanah is the best day to see two very seemingly disparate parts come together on one day. On the one hand, it is yom hadin - the day of judgement and the first of the yamim noraim and the 10 days of teshuva, and thus no Hallel is said. Yet on the other hand, it is a yom tov and thus carries with it simchah and we wear yom tov clothes, have yom tov meals, etc. And in the theme of Rosh HaShanah being simply to mamlich (crown) HaShem as King, [thus there is no mention of sin apart from a tiny cameo in avinu malkeinu] recognising that din and simchah, and general pain and success, good and bad, all come from Him, is a great way of really testifying this genuinely and whole-heartedly. Have a great shabbes and a kesivah vechasimah tovah Ps I got it wrong last week; the Shem Mishmuel was not the Sokochover Rov (the Kotzker Rebbe’s son-in-law) but rather his son.

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