Rosh Hashanah – Ha’azinu- Shabbat Teshuva



Yeshayahu Leibowitz highlighted the two prayers on Rosh Hashanah, “Uvechen ten Pachdecha”, and “Aleynu lesha’bei’ach” .  He wrote that they embody man’s consciousness regarding the kingdom of heaven. The first prayer, Uvechen, “Impose Your awe on all Your works, and the dread of You on all You have created…” is recited because as Creator, we pray that He will renew His world for the good and sanctity of His name, and the wish that G-d’s sovereignty over man and nature may soon be recognized everywhere. “ Aleynu” also embodies the expectation that the whole world will accept the kingdom of  heaven, without any regard for anyone’s personal problems, natural needs, or even the specific problems of the Jewish people.


R’ Adin Steinsaltz wrote that throughout all the emotional changes that occur during the Days of Awe, the one constant is the awareness of standing before the great, mighty and awesome King, Lord of Hosts.


These ideas are contained in Ha’azinu, a recapitulation of the history of the Jewish people, in their relationship with G-d and a prediction that they will stray before returning to the proper relationship. Moshe gave a  strong warning and then words of consolation, telling the Jews that at the end of their punishment, the redemption would come to pass. He reminded the people that the key to their future is the Torah. They would be assured of a long and happy life in their homeland through the study and observance of the Torah.He said “be careful to perform all the words of this Torah, for it is not an empty thing for you, it is your life”. R’ E Munk wrote that we will determine if the Torah is empty or meaningful. He quoted Rambam who wrote that if it is written in the Torah, it has a purpose for us as Jews. In Sifre  it was stated, “this song(Ha’azinu) is great for it pertains to the present, the past and the future”.


In the Haftarah, recited on Shabbat Teshuva,  Hosea called for repentance, and also predicted it for the future. He concluded with “For the ways of G-d are straight, and the righteous walk in them, but the wicked stumble in them”. Leibowitz explained that this indicates that everything depends on man’s intention and aim. These Days of Awe give us an opportunity to return to walk in    G-d’s ways, with the right intention, and to receive G-d’s forgiveness on Yom Kippur.

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