Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Haazinu 5777

Two passages in this week’s poetic Torah reading, Haazinu, jumped out at me when I learned of the 24 member states in UNESCO who voted for a resolution denying the historical ties of Judaism (and Christianity, for that matter) to Jerusalem.
The first verse that comes to mind is the very first one of the parshah: “Give ear, O heavens, let me speak; let the earth hear the words I utter” (Deuteronomy 32:1). The classic question asked by commentators in all generations is: why invoke heaven and earth, inanimate realms, as witnesses? Why not use people?
Second, I was struck by one of the passages in the midst of Moshe’s condemnation of Israelite infidelity to God. “Were they wise,” he says, Israel would figure out that the only reason they managed to conquer the land in the first place was that God was on their side. The phrase that jumped out is translated by JPS this way: “For their rock is not like our Rock/in our enemies’ own estimation.” But Artscroll renders it differently: “…for not like our Rock is their rock–yet our enemies judge us!”
Rashi’s reading of both of these verses can, I believe, give us the tools to respond to the UNESCO resolution, the full text of which you can find here. I’ll explain how on Shabbat morning.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi David Wise