Parashat Haazinu

Who could say goodbye to this world singing?...


The melodies of Yamim Norayim still resound in our ears. If we could choose, perhaps, like Moshe in Parashat Haazinu, we would also say goodbye, when it’s our turn many years ahead, singing and surrounded by loved ones.


Moshe asks for witnesses for everything that he has been teaching in his last days. And singles out nothing less than the Heavens and the Earth.


While Moshe requests the Heavens to listen to his song and the Earth to hear him, later, in a beautiful parallelism, Prophet Yirmiyahu makes the Earth first and then the farthest Heavens a close witness. Our sages interpreted this change of places between Heaven and Earth in the parallelism as a sign of Moshe's closeness to the Kadosh Baruch Hu, as opposed to Yirmiyahu, who was more linked to the people from an earthly stand.


Haazinu uses the image of rain as essential nutrition for living beings—an analogy to place our Torah as fundamental food for our people; thus, we, as fish in that vital water, can survive and develop. If we were to take this poem only as a new series of warnings, we would not be doing justice to what we understand to be the intention of the Prophet of the Prophets. A song, a poem is somehow indelibly introduced in our minds so that it lasts much more effectively than a reading or a speech. And after days and days of reviewing the teachings that would remain for centuries in our people, the act of printing a different formula, poetry or song to that same teaching so that it would settle even more in the collective memory of Bnei Israel is an extremely ingenious resource in such an ancient text.

This parashah is always spoken of as the one that contains the summary of the history of Am Yisrael; and that putting the Heavens and the Earth as its witnesses eternally commits us, as members of that people, to keep history alive.


Seeing how the very Torah tries resources to keep memory and recollection present in every rereading of the text, a kind of challenge is made to all of us: how come won’t we find a way for each one of us to preserve the memory, the pact, the commitment?


It is a personal challenge for Moshe to speak to us in the form of song or poetry. It is a challenge to not forget, to not let one more rereading of the Torah go by without committing ourselves to involve our children, our grandchildren and ourselves in this immense legacy.


Haazinu invites us to be witnesses, as much as the Heavens and the Earth are, as long as we have life and continue to feed on this incredible rainwater that nourishes us.


Let's have an open imagination to devise our own ways to make that message and legacy enduring.


Gustavo Geier