Hoazinu-Song

Our parsha – Hoazinu – is called a “song” (see previous parsha, Vayeilech and the command to, “Write down this song for yourselves…”).  And as a song, we would expect it to bear positive tidings and contain words of comfort and positivity.  But, that is not the case.  Until its conclusion, the “song” of Hoazinu contains words of rebuke and only at the end does it speak of the ultimate redemption and coming of meshiach.

Nevertheless, the “song” of Hoazinu was sung in the Beit Hamikdash by the Levites as they sung the “song of the day” every Shabbat.  So, there must be something positive and constructive in the song of Hoazinu.  To be precise, the song of Hoazinu was not recited in its entirety every week.  Every Shabbat, a different stanza from Hoazinu was recited together with the song of the day (MIzmor shir leyom HaShabbat).  So, it was completed only every six weeks in the Beit Hamikdash.  And this also makes it difficult to understand how it could be considered a “song,” which should be sung in its entirety.

Looking carefully in the words of the Rambam (Hilchot tamidim umusaphim 6:9) we may conclude that in fact the Rambam viewed the entire song as one, even though it was recited in six separate stanzas over six Shabbatot.  He writes, “While offering the musaf sacrifices on Shabbat, [the Levites] would say the song Hoazinu, dividing it into six stanzas…just as six men read it in the house of prayer.”  That is, the recitation was of an entire song – the song of Hoazinu – even tho it was divided into six parts.

Also from the perspective of its content, Hoazinu may be thought of as one unity.  It begins by establishing that everything that God does is just:  “Powerful as a rock, His acts are perfectly balanced, for all of His ways are just”  (Deut 32:4).  While this verse is not a happy verse, it does establish that everything that the Jews have undergone is for one purpose – for the ultimate redemption that will reveal Godliness.  And that’s what justifies the rebukes and punishment that are mentioned in the middle stanzas, which lead to the final verse (32:43) – “At that time the nations will sing praises…He will inflict revenge upon His enemies…and appease His land and His people.”  Looked at in this manner, it becomes apparent that also in terms of its content, Hoazinu is one unit.  And since its conclusion is happy, it may be considered a “song.”

However, if it is a song, why was it divided into six stanzas to be recited on six different Shabbatot?  Here, we find something interesting: Each stanza bears a close correspondence with the song of the day recited by the Levites during the week.  For example, on Sundays, the Levites would say, “To the Lord is the land and all that is thereon” (Psalm 24).  The first stanza of Hoazinu reads, “Let my teaching [Torah] drip like rain, my words flow like dew.”  The song of the day speaks of the relationship between God and His creation; the stanza from Hozaninu speaks of the relation between God (or Torah) and man.

On Mondays, the Levites would recite “Great is God and praiseworthy, in the city of our Lord, on His holy mountain” (Psalm 45).  On the second Shabbat, they would say the second stanza from Hoazinu – “When He bequeathed to the nations their portion, separating the sons of man…[into seventy nations].”   Again, the song of the day speaks of the relation of God to the world, while the stanza from Hoazinu discusses how God separated the Jews from the other nations and established His sovereignty over them.

The same correspondence applies to the rest of the stanzas and to the song of the day:  the song of the day discusses the relationship between God and creation, while the stanza from Hoazinu discusses the relationship between God and the Jews or between the Torah and the Jews.  And the relationship is inverse as well; just as the stanzas are part of a whole, so the various psalms of the day comprise a whole unity among themselves.

The fact that Hoazinu is called a “song” means that it is not only associated with the teshuva of the entire year (during which our purpose is to separate and remove ourselves from transgression), but also and mainly with the teshuva of the future (in which we resolve and commit ourselves to better behavior).  That is the reason that we read Hoazinu on Shabbat teshuva, since it is at this time that we must return and cleave to God in joy, like a child returning to his parents.

For a longer version and more details, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 24, page 229-238

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: