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14/15 October: Parshat Haazinu

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 5.55 pm: goes out 6.55 pm 

Our Torah portion Haazinu is a poem that begins with a plea to the children of Israel to “give ear,” — to listen.

There are several kinds of listening that we expect from our children: obedience to what we tell them to do, paying attention generally to what we say, and taking in our criticism. But all of these different kinds of listening can be difficult for children, whether they simply don’t want to do what we say, or because their attention is elsewhere, or because it’s hard to hear criticism.

It is difficult to figure out how to help children listen when we speak.  Moses models listening even though the Israelites are often complaining.  He always acknowledges their pain even as it frustrates him.  And there is great wisdom in using poetry for Moses’ final speech.   Haazinu’s verses are less sentences than incantations, a kind of magic that does the heavy lifting of getting a message to reach the soul.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

October 13, 2016