Ha'azinu Poetry Exploration
(א) הַאֲזִ֥ינוּ הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וַאֲדַבֵּ֑רָה וְתִשְׁמַ֥ע הָאָ֖רֶץ אִמְרֵי־פִֽי׃ (ב) יַעֲרֹ֤ף כַּמָּטָר֙ לִקְחִ֔י תִּזַּ֥ל כַּטַּ֖ל אִמְרָתִ֑י כִּשְׂעִירִ֣ם עֲלֵי־דֶ֔שֶׁא וְכִרְבִיבִ֖ים עֲלֵי־עֵֽשֶׂב׃

(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.

(יח) צ֥וּר יְלָדְךָ֖ תֶּ֑שִׁי וַתִּשְׁכַּ֖ח אֵ֥ל מְחֹלְלֶֽךָ׃ (יט) וַיַּ֥רְא יְהוָ֖ה וַיִּנְאָ֑ץ מִכַּ֥עַס בָּנָ֖יו וּבְנֹתָֽיו׃ (כ) וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אַסְתִּ֤ירָה פָנַי֙ מֵהֶ֔ם אֶרְאֶ֖ה מָ֣ה אַחֲרִיתָ֑ם כִּ֣י ד֤וֹר תַּהְפֻּכֹת֙ הֵ֔מָּה בָּנִ֖ים לֹא־אֵמֻ֥ן בָּֽם׃

(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?
(יט) וְעַתָּ֗ה כִּתְב֤וּ לָכֶם֙ אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וְלַמְּדָ֥הּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל שִׂימָ֣הּ בְּפִיהֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן תִּהְיֶה־לִּ֜י הַשִּׁירָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את לְעֵ֖ד בִּבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
(19) Therefore, write down this poem and teach it to the people of Israel; put it in their mouths, in order that this poem may be My witness against the people of Israel.


  • 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?