Torah
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Parshat Haazinu: Deuteronomy 32:1-52; II Samuel 22:1-51.

This portion records the moment when Moses led the Israelites through the desert to the eastern shores of the Jordan River.

He then recites a long poem (“song”) as the conclusion of his farewell address. It is his legacy to the children.

In these prophetic warnings, Moses, through the inspiration of God, exhorts the people to walk with the Lord. If they do not, then these words would stand as testimony. God would be just in inflicting disaster upon them as discipline for their disobedience.

Moses reflects on the ways in which God has vindicated Israel and he contrasts God’s loving kindness with the faithlessness and the ingratitude of the children of Israel. Even though Israel, as a disobedient child, is deserving of punishment, God, the loving father, will intervene.

The main image is that of God as a rock: “He will be the rock who will smash Israel’s enemies.” We see the unchangeable idea of God and the fickleness of the children of Israel. God is a God of faithfulness, of justice, of moral power. Whatever truths are conveyed by calling Him the rock are dependent upon the image of a rock.

In ancient times, people took refuge among the caves of the rocks for safety. They often wrote upon the rocks if they wanted their writing to endure. God as a rock is totally reliable, a source of strength. He will endure throughout the generations.

God supplies our existence and identity and the secret of the Jewish people: We survive! We are not like any other nation in history. Nations need land, language and a common culture. We Jews, as history has proven, are independent of these factors. We need only our God; we are God’s people.

No matter where we lived, what language or cultures we shared, we have always been Jews. No matter what we did, or do, to blend into a host environment, we always sought out the identifiable, the strength that is God.

As long as we Jews know that God is our portion, we flourish and reflect His light into the world.

Though we know the faith of our covenant with God is forever, we must remember that we are the tools of God’s actions and, as such, we must further His goal of increasing loyalty and observance.

We do this by becoming more faithful in assuming our obligations to our people, our synagogues or temples, our Jewish way of life as well as becoming more honest in our relationships with others, more sensitive to our moral and spiritual well being.

“And I will make thy seed to multiply … and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

Sy Manello is editorial assistant at the JN. This article originally appeared in the JN on Sept. 28, 2001.

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