Close to the Heavens

October 10, 2016 at 9:06 AM , , ,

“…Listen, o heavens, and i will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth…” – Devarim 32:1

    האזינו השמים ואדברה ותשמע הארץ אמרי פי – דברים לב, א

The Sifri observes that when Moshe addressed the heavens, he said הַאֲזִינוּ, which means, “listen,” whereas when he addressed the earth, he said וְתִשְׁמַע, which means, “hear.” The Sifri explains that “listening” indicates a degree of closeness, whereas “hearing” can occur from afar: “Since Moshe was close to heaven, he said, ‘Listen, O heavens,’ and since he was distant from earth, he said, ‘Let the earth hear the words of my mouth.’”

Parshas Ha’azinu is often read on the Shabbos between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, during the period known as the Ten Days of Teshuvah. Regarding these ten days, the Talmud invokes the verse, “Seek G-d when he is found, call Him when he is near” (Yeshayahu 55:6), meaning that these ten days are the time when “G-d is found,” which is therefore the best time to “Seek Him.” As the Rambam explains, “Even though repentance and calling out [to G-d] are desirable at all times, in the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur they are even more desirable and are accepted immediately” (Laws of Teshuvah 2:6).


In light of the Shelah’s teaching (Shnei Luchos Habris, Torah Sheb’ksav, Vayeishev) that the content of every parsha is associated with the time of year in which it is read, the Sifri’s description of Moshe’s spiritual state can be understood as a prototype of the state of every Jew in the Ten Days of Teshuvah. In these ten days, when G-d is “found” and “near” to every Jew, each one of us is capable of feeling “close to the heavens”—sensing G-d’s love and affection, and to consequently be “distant from the earth,”—detached and removed from earthly pursuits and concerns.
—Likutei Sichos, vol. 34, pp. 203-204

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