04 Oct HAAZINU: LISTEN TO THE MUSIC!
Rav Herzog on the Comparison of Torah to a Song
The verse from which we derive the mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah [Devorim 31:19] says “And now write for yourselves this song…”. We see the Torah refers to itself as a “Song” (Shirah). Why is Torah called Shirah?
Rav Herzog once gave the following explanation: With virtually all fieldsof study in the world, one uninitiated in that discipline gets no pleasurefrom hearing a theory or an insight concerning that field of study. Forexample — physics. If one tells over to a physicist a “chiddush” in hisfield of expertise, he will get great pleasure from it. If, however, oneshares this same insight with someone who has never studied and never beeninterested in physics, he will be totally unmoved by it. The same appliesto many, many other disciplines.
However, this is not the case with music. When Beethoven’s Fifth Symphonyis played — regardless of whether one is a concert master or a plainsimple person — there is something one will get out of it. Music issomething that everyone on their own level can enjoy and have arelationship to.
Rav Herzog says, that’s why Torah is called “Shirah”. One can be a greatTalmid Chochom and learn “Bereishis Barah Elokim…” and see great wisdomtherein. On the other hand, one can be a five year old child, justbeginning to read, and learn “Bereishis Barah Elokim…” and also gainsomething from it. Every person, on his own level can have anappreciation for Torah. Therefore Torah is aptly referred to in the versewhen it says “And now, write for yourselves this ‘song’…”
Menachem Tzion on “Binu Shnos Dor V’Dor”
The verse says in Parshas Ha’azinu [32:7] “Remember bygone days;understand the years of each generation; ask your father and he will tellyou, your grandfather and he will say it over to you”. This pasuk, evenon a very simple and basic level is telling us that a person has to havean appreciation for history.
A Jew, especially, has to have an appreciation of what was before him. Ifa person has an appreciation of what was, of tradition, of what hastranspired over the years, then he is a person that can deal with thepresent even better. A person has an obligation to remember and tounderstand and to try to see the Hand of G-d (Hashgocha) in history.
Willaim Shirer used as an epigraph to his Rise and Fall of the Third Reich(1959) the quote from U.S. philosopher George Santayana: “Those whocannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is a truth. One needs to remember past history (Zechor Yemos Olam).
On a simple level, Binu Shnos Dor V’Dor (Understand each and everygeneration) is redundant. It would appear to be a poetic restatement ofthe beginning of the verse. On a homiletic level however, the MenachemZion offers a very nice interpretation of this expression.
Yes, one must understand history and take the lessons of history and applyit to our generation, but also Binu ‘Shnos’ dor v’dor. He homileticallysays the word ‘Shnos’ is derived not from the word ‘Shana’ (year) but fromthe word ‘Shoneh’ (different). The meaning is that you must understandthe changes from one generation to the next
A person can not blindly apply the same rules that worked in the past tothe present situation. If he tries, he will fall short. Each generationis different. A person can not glibly say “That’s the way it was;therefore that’s the way it has to be”. Binu Shnos Dor V’dor — take thelesson of history, but bear in bind the changes from generation togeneration. Times change, people change, and circumstances change. Sometimes a person has to alter and redirect and not merely go with whatwas.
If someone today were to send a half million troops to the beaches ofNormandy, he would rightly be called a “meshuganer”. While 50 years agothere was indeed a need to fight a battle on the beaches of Normandy, thatbattle is now over; that battle has already been fought; and that battlehas already been won. We cannot always continually fight the same battlesover again.
Understand the changes (‘shnos’) in each generation. Understand that eachgeneration has its own set of problems and own set of rules and own set ofcircumstances. We must remember the days gone by, but couple thatremembrance with an understanding of the changes that take place in eachgeneration.
In this connection, I have quoted in the past the ‘Chassideshe vort’ ofReb Levi Yitzchak that Eliyahu (rather than Moshe Rabbenu or anyone else)was the one designated to resolve all of the Gemarah’s “Teykus”. Thereason, the Berditchever says, is because Chaz”al say Eliyahu never died– he has been around in all generations. To pasken shaylos we needsomeone who has an understanding of each generation to pasken the Shaylahfor that generation. Therefore only Eliyahu who was present during allgenerations will be qualified to resolve the “Teykus”.
Rav Gedaliah Schorr on Revealed and Hidden Manifestations of G-d
The verse says [32:39] “See now that I myself (Ani, Ani) am the One, thereis no other G-d with me; I will kill and I will resurrect. I will hitand I will also heal, there is no one to save from My Hand”. Thecommentaries are here bothered by the two “Ani”s. It should just say theword Ani once.
The Kli Yakar explains, that the verse is coming to contradict thoseschools of thought that believe there are two Supreme Forces in the world: The Force that Gives us Good and the Force that Gives us Evil. The versecomes and says this is incorrect. The same G-d that Kills is the G-d thatResurrects. The same G-d that gives illness is the G-d that heals. AniAni Hu. (I, myself, am the One). There are no two “Domains”.
Rav Gedaliah Schorr, zt”l says that the Kaballistic works discuss two waysin which G-d deals with the world — the Revealed Way (Gilui) and theHidden Way (Hester). The Revealed Way is referred to in this literatureas “Ani” — we can see clearly that it is “I – G-d” who is dealing withus. But when the Hidden Way is talked about it is referred to inKaballistic terminology as “Hu” — the third person. As if it were notG-d acting, but another Force, as it were, — “Him” not “I”.
Using these terms, Rav Schorr offers a beautiful interpretation of theverse: “Ani, Ani, Hu” means that the attribute that deals with you as”Ani”is in fact identical to the attribute that deals with you as “Hu”. When G-d deals with us in a mysterious way such that we cannot understandHis Ways, we must nevertheless believe that it is the sameForce; the sameRibbono Shel Olam as the one Whose Presence is clearly evident to us.
A very short time ago, we beat our breasts with the confession for the”sins we have committed against You with ‘Timhon levav’”. ‘Timhon Levav’means that we have ‘Temihos’ (questions) because we have not seen theRibbono Shel Olam as the First Person (I), but as the Hidden Third Person(Hu); we have failed to believe with a complete belief that the Hidden andthe Revealed manifestations are from one and the same Ribbono Shel Olam.