Prarashas Haazinu 5780 – Believing in Hashem is the secret to life

We’re just coming out of Yom Kippur and are confronted by the Parasha of Haazinu. What correlation is there between both? What message can we take with us in order to have a successful year? The person has a limited emotional memory, so which attribute should we take with us that will grant us all the blessings we need in our lives?
The Pasuk says: “The Rock, all of whose works are perfect; all His ways are just; He is a Faithful God, without iniquity, True and upright is He”. The language seems redundant, if Hashem work is perfect, then it is expected to be truthful and without any falsehood. Besides, it would never cross our mind to suspect that any of Hashem’s work would have the tiniest bit of imperfection. We see with our own eyes that the different components of the world are working to perfection, so why is Moshe feeling the need to stress that point?
The Midrash explains that Moshe provides us two fundamental points in order to go through time successfully. 1) The world has been created with “Justice” and is ruled by “Justice”. There’s no iniquity, as Hashem is an unbiased Judge. 2) We only spend a limited time on earth, and therefore cannot understand Hashem’s ways. However, all that Hashem has planned works out perfectly in the end.
Let’s explain those points according to the teachings of the Holly Ohr Hachaim: In the previous Pasuk Moshe stated that the cause of rainfall and dew, which are the most critical elements for life existence, are a consequence of the Torah study. Then, how is it possible that some Torah scholars nonetheless experience extreme poverty? Also, how is it possible that one sometimes sees a person who had suffered deprivations until he shook off the yoke of Torah and then suddenly became very wealthy? We can also wonder why Moshe is comparing Hashem to a Rock. The Rock is an inanimate form of life; it will remain at the spot it was created and not change form. Only the elements will have an effect on it and even reshape it. Just as the rock that enabled Rabbi Akiva to make Tshuva. That rock was in a riverbed and water was dripping on it till it made a hole. Rabbi Akiva who’s father was a convert and had never learnt Thora till that age [he was 40 years old then], was astonished by the sight. How can something so soft as water could perforate something as hard as a rock. It must be that nothing is impossible in life.
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We all know the end of the story, he ended up being the Greatest teacher our nation has ever had. One of his smallest students was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai the author of the Zohar. Also, when Moshe went to the Heaven to get the Thora, Hashem showed him Rabbi Akiva. Moshe, seeing his greatness, told Hashem, with his legendary humility, that Rabbi Akiva should be the one giving the Thora to the Bnei Yisrael. That was despite that till age 40 he was an ignoramus and obviously sinned. How was that then possible? The water is also an inanimate form of life, but with the help of pitching grounds it moves. Rabbi Akiva learnt then these two factors; a person “inanimate life” is not doomed to remain such eternally. Conditions can be created for it to become animated. Therefore, his life too could start changing. Also, with repetition and determination even the highest levels are accessible. With only this in mind he undertook the trip to become Rabbi Akiva.
So, even though Hashem is steadfast like the rock, water which is compared to the Thora and good deeds can reshape the rock. Just as the Tshuva performed during Yom Kippur. Hashem’s “Justice” does not resemble our Justice. The Heavenly “justice” showers blessings to the person who just has only feelings of remorse, prior to the person changing his way of life.
The fact that Hashem apparently compensates very sparingly people who have been very generous doing good deeds and who have studied Torah, is part of His “Justice”. Indeed, Hashem does not afflict the righteous until he has become guilty to suffer afflictions, and He does not lavish His goodness on the wicked unless he had done something to deserve it. However, as justice requires, each one will be granted a complete reward for all their deeds, good or bad.
The Zohar teaches: that the souls upon reentering the Gehinam on Motzaei Shabbos, say that very verse “The Rock, all of whose works are perfect; all His ways are just; He is a Faithful God, without iniquity, True and upright is He”. As after departing this world of lies, the person sees the “Truth” and justifies it’s “punishment”. It’s important to note, the Zohar does not describe the Gehinam as a punishment but rather as a “Mikve”. Just as the Mikve purifies the impure, so too the Gehinam removes all impurities from the soul.
This is the meaning of Hashem being “A Faithful God without iniquity”. “Faithful” refers to the repayment of the righteous’ deeds in the hereafter. And “without iniquity” refers to the repayment of the wicked good deeds which he has performed in this life.
The Midrash Tehillim explains on the Psalm 4,8: “You put joy in my heart when their grain and wine show increase.” King David observed that “if people who constantly violate Hashem’s commandments fare like this, I, who strive to accomplish Hashem’s will, will most certainly fare at least as well”. Therefore, my heart is filled with joy when I behold the success of the gentiles. Meaning that the
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righteous should draw additional faith by seeing the success of the wicked nations. The mere fact that Hashem gives success to Gentiles should reinforce our belief that Hashem is a Faithful Judge. He rewards the gentiles in this world as it is the only life they have. While for us, we have faith that Hashem knows foremost what’s in our best interest, where it’s the ideal place and time to reward us. In this world or in the world to come.
Though, despite Hashem created this world with “Justice”, He has 13 attributes of different forms of mercy, which we mentioned several times on Yom Kippur. It’s not a contradiction, as even though “Justice” rules the world, when it comes to executing it, Hashem established allowances for Mercy. The direct trigger for Mercy is our belief in Hashem as it enables us to change path and better our lives. Therefore, our sins are not characterized as rebellious towards Hashem’s commandments, but rather inadvertent faults. Then “Hashem” will not allow the Justice to be carried out, rather He will wait for the next Yom Kippur for us to repent.

By Rabbi Fridmann * rabbifridmann@badatzmiami.com * 305.985.3461

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