(1) Give ear, O heavens, let me speak; Let the earth hear the words I utter! (2) May my discourse come down as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, Like showers on young growth, Like droplets on the grass.
(18) You neglected the Rock that begot you, Forgot the God who brought you forth. (19) Adonai saw and was vexed And spurned His sons and His daughters. (20) He said: I will hide My countenance from them, And see how they fare in the end. For they are a treacherous breed, Children with no loyalty in them.
- Here God acknowledges that the people Israel haven't always been so great or followed God. What is God promising to do to them here?
- This is essentially the theme of the poem. Can someone summarize it?
- Here we are given the reason for why to write down the poem to come in Ha'azinu. What is it?
- Does this answer seem satisfying to you? Why or why not?
19th-century commentator, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv) on Deut 31:19
In poetry, there is a richness that comes from it having been adorned with all kinds of hints, in a way that isn’t done with prose. Like the custom of using the first letter in each line to spell out the alphabet, or to write out the poet’s name. There is a richness that is special to this fragmented language and not to prose. And it is well known that in order to achieve this level of richness, the poet is often forced to bend the language, so that the beginning letters end up being the ones he is seeking...
Aside from the most basic, simple reading, there is in every word many secrets and hidden ideas. Because of this, there are many instances when the language of the Torah is not to be read literally.
And all this is not true for the Holy Torah alone, but with all sacred scripture.
Here then, we learn the point of the poetry. Yes, it might be troublesome or problematic, but it is also powerful, and written with a purpose that we cannot understand immediately.
- If we think about the poem as the end of the Torah, one of the last things Moses says to the people Israel, why do we think it is written in poem form?
- Why is it so negative, if it is one of the last things Moses tells the people?
- What message must we hear at this time, between Yom Kippur and Sukkot? What are the words we might need to hear and how might we want those words in poetry form?