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A Song You Will Remember

In last week's portion, Vayeilech, we read, “Then Moses recited the words of the following poem to the very end, in the hearing of the whole congregation of Israel” (Deut. 31:30). This verse concludes last week’s portion, Parashat Vayeilechand in doing so, creates one of the most dramatic cliffhangers in our entire Torah. Surely this forthcoming poem, Moses’ actual last words to the Israelites, will be emotional, inspirational, and transformational.

D'var Torah By: 
Transitioning from Fear and Awe to Celebration
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Brian T. Nelson

Cantor Sacks has beautifully discussed the importance of Shirat Moshe, the Song of Moses, and her expertise in analyzing the musical components of this parashah highlights succinctly how it retells Israel’s relationship with God throughout the Exodus and Moses’ leadership. There is also something noteworthy when one simultaneously considers both the arc of the poem’s narrative and the timing of its recitation. This year Shirat Moshe is read in between the Yamim Nora-im (the High Holidays) and Sukkot. The arc of the poem tells of God’s power to punish B’nei Yisrael when they turn away from God, and then reminds us of God’s willingness to defend B’nei Yisrael and seek vengeance upon those who would do them harm. 

Going Out and Coming In: Transitions of Leadership

In our High Holiday machzor, we read a poem entitled, “The Sacred Pilgrimage,” by Rabbi Alvin Fine: "Birth is a beginning and death a destination. But life is a journey ..."  The familiar verses of this poem could easily be the underlying emotional narrative of Parashat Vayeilech.  In this week’s portion, Moses is in the midst of this process; for in Parashat Vayeilech, Moses officially retires and begins to prepare for his death.

D'var Torah By: 
Lessons in Self-Reflection From Moses
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Kevin Kleinman

In her commentary, Cantor Sacks helps us reflect on Moses’ life and legacy by quoting a poem that is often recited at memorial services: "Birth is a beginning and death a destination … But life is a journey … The poem connects beautifully to Moses’ own self-examination at the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, VayeilechHere, Moses literally stands in the liminal moments between life and death ...

The Spiritual Climax of Now

As we near the end of Deuteronomy, prepare to begin the yearly Torah cycle anew, and celebrate the finale of the fall holidays, we are poised for a remarkable spiritual climax. This week’s Torah portion, Haazinu, includes Moses’ dramatic theological poem – a powerful cry of the heart because he wants to ensure that the community understands the core principles of what it means to be an Israelite. 

D'var Torah By: 
Speaking So All Can Hear
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Melissa Buyer-Witman

"May my discourse come down as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like showers on young growth, like droplets on the grass" (Deut. 32:2). Moses eloquently pleads to his community: Haazinu, “Listen.” He urges them to hear his sage counsel one last time before they make their way to the Promised Land without him.

Remember the Days of Old

In Haazinu, Moses recites a poem telling the people of Israel that they must give glory to God and be true to God whose ways are just. He instructs them to consult their elders and “remember the days of old.” 

D'var Torah By: 
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Davar Acher By: 
Rabbi Stefan Tiwy

In his d'var Torah on Parashat Haazinu, Rabbi Marc Saperstein makes the case that Moses' request to “remember the days of old” (Deuteronomy 32:7) literally obligates the Israelites and us, their spiritual descendants, to engage in the study of our people's history. At the same time, he acknowledges that history is neither an absolute nor infallible science.

A Failure of Leadership and Moses’ Downfall

Haazinu is one of the shorter sections of the Torah, and it is made up almost entirely of a breathtaking and chastening poem. The term "awesome" tends to be overused today, but this poem is truly awesome. Unfortunately, the power of the Hebrew rhythm and poetic style is lost in the English translation, but we can still sense some of the majesty.

D'var Torah By: 
Moses Reaches Out to Us Across the Generations
Davar Acher By: 
Paul Citrin

The poem in Haazinu presents divine attributes, affirms God's providential care and bounty; the place of the Jewish people in relation to God and the world; divine wrath; punishment and chastisement; treatment of Israel's enemies, and hope for the future of Israel. All of these topics in such a small space echo Abravanel's view, "The words of Torah sometimes seem few in quantity, but they are great in quality" (ibid., Itturei Torah).

There Is “No” Other

When I am preparing a family for the funeral of a loved one, we meet privately to recite the phrase Baruch Dayan HaEmet, "Blessed is the True Judge," as we put a tear in the black k'ri

D'var Torah By: 

Imagine you're an Israelite camped out across the Jordan River, poised to enter the Promised Land, and you hear Moses final appeal and farewell.

The Last Lecture: Moses's Valedictory Song

What would you say to the people you care about if you knew you were about to die? How would you choose and position your words to reflect your deepest commitments?

D'var Torah By: 
Unfinished Journeys
Davar Acher By: 
Eric Eisenkramer

In her d'var Torah, Rabbi Elwell describes Moses as a "weather-beaten, still powerful patriarch." He is an elderly, exhausted man, a man who fears

Haazinu: Nursing Them with Honey from the Rock

I've always thought it curious that it is customary on the holiday of Shavuot to eat foods made of sweet dairy (cheese blintzes, cheesecake, and so on).

D'var Torah By: 
The Song of Moses: Poetry, Prose, and Metaphor
Davar Acher By: 
Brad L. Bloom

Rabbi Milgrom brings out an intriguing dimension of the Song of Moses by focusing on the theme of the nurturing God in the language of the poem.

There Are No Good Old Days

We have arrived finally at Parashat Haazinu, the last speech Moses will make to his people and the penultimate installment of his conversation with us from miles and centuries away.

D'var Torah By: 
Living and Learning in Relationship to God and Others
Davar Acher By: 
Steven L. Mills

Rabbi Hayon observes in his d'var Torah, "Our parashah reminds us that all redemption stems from relationship." I remember a time nearly twelve years ago when my son was five; he


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