A World Without Teshuvah

A World Without Teshuvah

Sep 18, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Ha'azinu | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

The Torah is largely a series of legal texts set in a narrative context. It is not replete with outbursts of poetry. Our poetic sensibility seeks satisfaction elsewhere in the Tanakh – in the passion of the prophets, or the poignancy of the psalmist, or the protest of Job, or in the sensuousness of the Song of Songs. The Torah touches only some of our senses. And yet, it closes in a great poetic flourish. As Moses nears his end, he switches from didactic prose to incandescent poetry.

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On This Very Day

On This Very Day

Sep 26, 2014 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Ha'azinu | Shabbat Shuvah | Yom Kippur

It’s difficult to overstate the pathos of Moshe’s last days. This man (and he is most assuredly a man, not a god, not a saint), who never wanted to be a leader—and after his first, impulsive attempt at leading was met with contempt from those he tried to save and condemnation from Pharaoh, his adoptive father (Exod. 2:11–15)—carried the burdens of prophetic leadership with fierce loyalty to both of his masters, God and the people.

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Teshuvah: Seeking the Hidden Face of God

Teshuvah: Seeking the Hidden Face of God

Sep 26, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Ha'azinu | Shabbat Shuvah

This coming Shabbat, the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is known as Shabbat Shuvah, the “Sabbath of Return.”

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The Heavens, the Poet, and the People

The Heavens, the Poet, and the People

Sep 25, 2015 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Ha'azinu

Between May and December 1943, the poet Yitshak Katzenelson was incarcerated with his last surviving son, Zvi, in Vittel, a German transit camp in France. There Yitshak kept a diary-cum-journal in Hebrew and completed The Song of the Slaughtered Jewish People in Yiddish, the longest epic poem to have survived the Holocaust. The pivotal ninth canto is a bold, even blasphemous, response to Parashat Ha’azinu.

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Finding God and Ourselves Anew

Finding God and Ourselves Anew

Sep 3, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Ha'azinu | Rosh Hashanah | Shabbat Shuvah | Yom Kippur

During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we devote ourselves to the process of repentance, attempting to tip the balance in our favor as we approach the Day of Atonement.

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Entering the Promised Land

Entering the Promised Land

Oct 1, 2011 By Ofra Backenroth | Commentary | Ha'azinu

What does it mean to be a leader who, for 40 long years, led the people of Israel in the desert, providing for all their needs, and, in the end, was forbidden to enter the Promised Land?

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The View From Har Nebo

The View From Har Nebo

Sep 29, 2012 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Ha'azinu

We cannot begin to fathom the extent of emotion that must have rushed through Moses as he faced the reality that he was not to enter the Land, but “die on the mountain” that he was about to ascend. What words were exchanged between Moses and God? What conversation is not recorded in the Torah?

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The Ending That Wasn’t

The Ending That Wasn’t

Sep 25, 2015 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Ha'azinu

We Jews are not a religious lot. In fact, by a variety of metrics cited in the recent Pew report, Jews are less religious than any other religious group in America. For instance, only one quarter of Jews say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with more than half of Americans overall. More to the point that I’d like to explore, a belief in God is much more common among the general non-Jewish public than among Jews.

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