Monday, September 17, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Haazinu/Shabat Shuvah

This past week (yeah, I keep releasing these things ex post facto, sorry...) we read the short poetic Parasha known as Haazinu. This is a little disturbing, filled with Israel's impending rejection of God and God's subsequent justified hiding from the people. This has been pretty standard in the Torah but it is rarely written in this poetic a form. Why is it written as a poem? My rabbi and congregants brought up various ideas (which I don't remember due to severe exhaustion from Rosh Hashannah), but I think that it is that a poem is easier to remember than prose, something especially important in a society that is based on oral tradition rather than written histories. Moses probably felt that a poem would hit closer to home and would be more memorable with the dire warnings it gives to Israel, lest they fulfill the conditions leading to their abandonment by God. This Torah portion, and even moreso with the special Haftarah for Shabbat Shuvah, exhort us to do teshuvah, to turn from wicked paths and return to the Lord.

I'm still trying to process what happened today so will end here. I will write about this event in the near future.

G'mar Chatima Tova

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