Ha'azinu
For the week of September 18, 2004 / 3 Tishri 5765
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: 2 Samuel 22:1-51
Replaced by Shuva: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-17
Revised version of the week of September 29, 2001 / 12 Tishri 5762

God Is Perfect and Just

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:3,4).

Near the end of his life, Moses sang a song to his people. His days on earth were just about over. What a life he had lived! Saved from death in the Nile River, he was raised in the household of Pharaoh. Years later in his desire to help his own people, he murdered an Egyptian. He then ran away as a fugitive and spent the next forty years in the wilderness as a shepherd. At God's command he reluctantly returned to Egypt to lead his people out of slavery and oppression.

He spent the next forty years on an incredible journey. Following God's dramatic display of his wonders in Egypt, Moses saw God miraculously care and provide for his people. He spoke with God face to face and taught the people God's ways.

And now in his final days, he sings. Moses sings to his people. After all he had seen and heard, after all that he experienced, he sings. One of the things that we hear him sing of is his assessment of God. After all he had gone through, after all he had seen and heard. After all the difficulties he faced, he sings about what he thinks of God:

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:3,4).

God is perfect and just. This is not a religious statement. This is not the recitation of some ritualistic creed. Moses had nothing to prove. This is his honest assessment after living a most difficult life. Moses lived with the on-going tension between the reality of God and difficult human circumstances. He saw miracles and he saw death. He saw the good and he saw the bad. But as far as he was concerned, God was perfect and just.

Last week was the third anniversary of the horrible attacks upon New York and Washington. September 11, 2001 caused many to rethink what life is all about. Is there really a God? If there is a God, what is he like? Each year during the high holy days, these kinds of questions are asked, but such events cause many to ask these questions more earnestly.

How can God be perfect and just when things like this happen? Many voices out there are shouting at us, giving their so-called expert opinion, as they try to make sense out of these devastating and confusing events.

But Moses isn't shouting. He doesn't need to. After his long and full life, he is singing. Listen:

A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:4).

We have a tendency to base our understanding of God upon life's circumstances. Through our analyzing and philosophizing we try to answer the most fundamental questions of life. Moses is telling us through his song that it can't be done. We donít have ability to make such deductions.

Moses' understanding of God was not based on his circumstances, but upon actually knowing God himself. He didn't just know about him, he personally knew him. So he sings.

Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) begins this Wednesday evening. This is the time of year when we put aside our feeble attempts to figure everything out and renew our covenant with our Maker, our Savior, our God. It is a day to stop listening to the clamor and confusion of the signs of death and destruction around us and to come to grips with the reality of God himself.

Can you hear Moses' singing?

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