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Ha’azinu (Listen) – Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52

Our past holds the key to understanding the present

This week we read the Song of Moses, one of Moses’ final speeches to the Children of Israel before his death. The only other words Moses speaks to the nation after this are the words of blessing in Deuteronomy Chapter 33. But in Deuteronomy Chapter 32, Moses composes a long poem in which he praises God, discusses His relationship with His people, and reviews historical events, some of which are revealed prophetically to him but have not yet occurred.

I would like to focus on two verses, each of which carries messages which speak to me in an especially relevant way.

 Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations. (Deuteronomy 32:7).

Moses instructs his people to remember their history. In referring to the days of old, he hearkens back as far as Creation – remember the events of the universe from its very beginnings. Understanding the years of a generation implies a deeper comprehension of events, of people, of their actions, and the consequences of those actions.

Moses understood what so few people understand today – that we are unable to understand our present if we don’t understand our past. If we don’t understand the ways of nature and the origins of the universe, and especially the fact that the universe was created by God, we will never be able to comprehend our role as human beings – to serve our Creator. And if we don’t evaluate the events of history, the expectations God has from the Jewish people and from all peoples, His judgment over us, and the consequences of our actions, then we will be doomed to failure every time.

The second verse that I find meaningful is Deuteronomy 32:15: But Jeshurun (a name for Israel) grew fat and kicked… then he forsook God who made him.” 

This verse echoes a set of verses in Moses’ earlier speeches to the nation:

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statuetes, which I command you today. Lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied. Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14)

As the Children of Israel are about to enter the Land of Israel, Moses warns them of the dangers of prosperity. Even as prosperity is promised as a reward for obeying God’s word, it can become a double-edged sword. 

When life is good and blessings are abundant – then it is easy for Israel to forsake God, to forget that the source of our blessings is His generosity. When we are in trouble, it is natural to cry out for help. But when things are good, we tend to brag and attribute our success to our efforts alone. We forget that it is God who has blessed us that it is He who created us, and to Him, we owe our gratitude.

If all of Israel, if all of the world, would turn to Him in the height of prosperity, the world would be a better place. The western world is a wealthy world and a secular world indeed.

If all of Israel remembered the lessons of history, even our own recent history with regard to our conflict with the Arabs, and if our entire nation remembered that it is God who has created us and who is responsible for our blessings, we would all hold on to the gift He has given us and never let go. We would all treasure Biblical Israel forever.

Shabbat Shalom from Samaria,

Sondra Baras
Director, Israel Office

8 thoughts on “Ha’azinu (Listen) – Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52”

  1. “Lord help us to invoke your miracle working hands to help us in this our of our need {coronavirus pandemic} and help us never to forget your kindness towards us and Eretz Israel”
    Thank You Sondra for your excellent commentary as usual.
    Shana Tova 5781!
    Rudy & Gina Fidel

  2. Thanks so much for the timely teaching. We yearn for the “good old days,” during these trying times, thinking that material success is the main thing, but your teaching reminds us that it all started with God and coming back to Him is the new starting point. History is the canvas for painting the new. Thanks again for your teaching.

  3. This week we are finishing the book of Dueteronomy at 1st Melissa in Texas and find your comments right on. Understanding God is the key and the Torah is the source for that understanding.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge and with us, May God bless you and protect you and all of Isreal.
    Your brother,
    Tom Cegelski

  4. THis is a comment regarding the western world succinct and deadly accurate. It is why, like ancient Israel, we will inevitably reap the catastrophic ‘rewards’ of our rebellion.
    Thank you for this and other teachings that come so prolifically.

  5. Sandra, bless you for those anointed insights . I’ll send something on later. Bless Israel with the enormous love of God over all His people. Kefa

  6. My earlier comments regarding the issues raised here remain re-enforced by a re-reading of this Scripture, and your comments. Sadly, it looks inevitable that prosperity will eventually, sooner or later, lead to corruption. It is within our ‘human nature’ (whatever that may mean!) to be corrupt. Looking at the narrative of ancient Israel as recorded in Kings and Chronicles, we see the descent into apostasy and eventual captivity. If we look at church history, we see repetitively, the descent into even worse apostasy. If the leaders go wrong, then the rest of the population goes wrong.


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