written by: Matthew Minsk, 8th Grader
October 14, 2016
12 Tishrei 5777
This week’s parsha is Parshat Haazinu. Except for the very end, the entire parsha is a song, one of the ten Songs that will be composed in the history of Creation. The ten songs include songs such as Az Yashir, the song at the splitting of the sea, the song of Channah when she has her child, Shmuel (which we read as the haftarah on Rosh Hashanah) and Shir Hashirim, Song of Songs, composed by King Solomon and one of the five megillot, which we read on Pesach.
Overall, all of these songs are happy and are in thanks to Hashem. However, Haazinu is not happy. Half of the song of Haazinu is tragic, a depiction of what will happen when the people don’t follow Hashem’s commands and are then sent into Exile. The first part of the Song tells of the amazing things Am Yisrael will benefit from in the land of Israel. But then the second part tells of how they will become corrupt, and how they will be exiled. This part begins with the phrase וישמן ישרון Yeshurun will become fat, which comes directly after a verse telling how the nation will be rich in food. It talks about the goodness of their food, but then it becomes bad, and they become fat.
When he was king, it is said Solomon collected a tremendous wealth, so much that it would tempt anyone to become greedy and jealous and turn away from G-d. He believed he wouldn’t be tempted because he was on such a high spiritual level. In fact, he was right. However, after his death, his sons couldn’t resist the temptations, which led to a civil war and a split of the Kingdoms of Judea and Israel. A couple hundred years later, this lack of unity led to Assyria dispersing the Ten Tribes and Babylon destroying the Beit HaMikdash, and other consequences foretold later in this parsha.
Next week is Succos, called Z’man Simchaseinu, the time of our happiness. But yet on Shabbas Chol HaMoed, we will read Koheles, which is written by Solomon and is just utter sadness and despair, saying there is no hope. The complete opposite of Z’man Simchaseinu. The Rabbis teach us we read Koheles on Succos so that we see that even in our happiness, we can’t be too happy. We are still in exile.
This does not mean we shouldn’t be happy, that we shouldn’t feast with the good things Hashem gave us. Because we should. Not even an hour after we read Koheles, in Mussaf, we still call Succos a time of happiness. We are still commanded to be happy, even while reading Koheles.
Last week, we had Tzom Gedaliah, the fast of Gedaliah. What is the purpose of being hungry on fast days? One purpose is to remind us all is not right, we are in exile, which is not where we need to be. We need to work for the Ultimate Redemption.
We bide our time, keeping our Jewish identity in schools such as AJA, and try to do mitzvot until Hashem decides the time is right. We work for that time, when we will have an opportunity to be in the Land of Israel and use what He gave us in the right way.
Then, maybe instead of having the futility in Koheles bring us down in our time of happiness, we can rejoice even more, and read the tenth song. This is the song that hasn’t been written yet, the song of the exiled being redeemed, the Song of the Mashiach.
Until then, Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!