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1. Moses declares (32:2) that he wishes his words to be as 'rain' and 'storm winds' on one hand, and like 'dew' and 'raindrops' on the other. What may be learnt by that contrast, according the S'forno?
2. How does the S'forno understand the phrase: 'When I call out the name of G-d, ascribe greatness to G-d'? (32:3)
3. According to the S'forno, what are the five main themes of the body of the long poem of Parashat Ha-azinu?
4. What is the force of the Israelites being, for the first time in tne Torah, referred to as 'Yeshurun' (32:15) - according to Hirsch?
5. Moses prophesized that G-d would 'see and be provoked in the anger caused by His sons and daughters' (32:19). Why, according to the Ramban, does the Torah include 'benotav' (His daughters), instead on relying on the more generic 'banav' (His sons) to include daughters as a matter of course?
6. Why, following 32:41 and Rashi's comment thereon, does G-d vow to turn His anger towards those who persecute Israel, when they are only acting as His agents for retribution to the Israelites for their having failed to live up to His expectations?
7. What, according to Rashi, is the meaning of Moses' declaration that the Torah 'is not an empty thing for you'? (32:47)
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT AND COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT HA'AZINU
1. According to the S'forno, this implies that Torah teachings at large have messages for all. Those who are learned can benefit from it in more intense forms and at greater depth - as 'rain' and as 'storm winds', and those of lesser ;earning potential may still enjoy and gain from it at a simpler level - as 'dew' and as 'raindrops'.
2. According to the S'forno, the phrase: 'When I call out the name of G-d, ascribe greatness to G-d' is an expression of actual prayer. Addressing future generations, Moses asks the people to ascribe greatness to G-d by turning to Him in prayer in even the darkest hours of exile with the faith that He will eventually redeem them against all odds.
3. According to the S'forno, the five main themes of the body of the long poem of Parashat Ha-azinu are - (i) G-d created the world so that all the nations would join in achieving His goal; when they failed to do so, He chose Israel for that mission (ii) He gave the Holy Land to the Israelites, which they later implicitly rejected by failing to keep to His code (iii) Though they deserved to be destroyed they only suffered exile, so that His name would not be desecrated (iv) the Israelites would be redeemed at the End of Days (v) The redemption would be fully realized and Israel's enemies would be duly punished.
4. Hirsch understands the name 'Yeshurun' to derive from the word 'yashar' - meaning upright, straight, just. That is the way G-d expects His people to behave in the Holy Land, and in 'becoming fat' - succumbing to its physical desires - it deviates from the ideals expressed by the name 'Yeshurun'.
5. The reference to daughters, according to the Ramban, alludes to the period just before the Destruction of the First Temple, when the ladies of the time are recorded to have been most fanatical in their pursuit of idolatry - as per Jeremiah 44.
6. This is because they were to persecute Israel beyond the 'call of duty' - unleashing their full measure of hatred without justification - in the spirit of Zachariah 1:15.
7. Rashi brings two explanations. Firstly, G-d will always amply reward those who study Torah, and secondly, there is nothing that Torah contains that is not of great value if one takes the trouble to give the words due study, thought, and consideration.
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ON PARASHAT HA-AZINU
1. The other Songs in the Bible - the Songs of Moses (Ex. 15), Deborah (Jud. 5), and David (Sam. II 22 / Psalms 18) are songs of praise and joy. This 'Song' (so called in 31:30) reveals prolonged suffering before the Final Reckoning. How can the same word - 'shira' (song), apply here?
2. Ha-azinu is written in the Sifrei Hakodesh as two separate columns - as two pillars, one opposite the other. The Songs of Moses, Deborah, and David are written differently: on alternate lines - ariach u-leveina - rather like alternate bonding in bricklaying. Why is this song written differently from the other three?
3. Moses was about to die - would this be an occasion for song?
My attempt to write on this issue may be found in Shema Yisrael for Ha'azinu in 5760
Other Parashiot from previous years may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/index.htm
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
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