Parshat Haazinu – Less oy! More joy!
RABBI ARI KIEVMAN
The Days of Awe are over. Now we enter the Season of Our Joy. It’s time to sing!
Occurring between Yom Kippur and the holiday of Succot, this Shabbat is a rarity. A particular distinction of this set-up is the opportunity to preface Succot by reading Parshat Haazinu – the last portion of the Torah to be read on a Shabbat morning.
The greater part of Haazinu consists of the 70-verse “song” chanted by Moses to the people of Israel just before his passing.
Our sages have taught that mastering this parsha can cultivate blessings for longevity and financial success.
Why is this portion, of all of them, the one to illicit such blessing? What is its unique message?
Here’s my take: Moshe’s final lesson to his people is that life must be celebrated. Indeed, Haazinu was sung each week in the Temple by the Levites accompanied by the Grand Temple symphony.
We must dance with our Jewish pride expressing the Jewish joie de vivre. Our dedication to Yiddishkeit should be contagious like a catchy melody, one that we find staying in our minds, that impels us to tap our feet, and that those around us will want to join too.
During the past weeks’ Days of Awe, we had a powerful opportunity for personal growth. We prayed for our needs and fasted for Divine assistance to improve ourselves. Now it’s time to rejoice; we are invigorated with our resolutions and appreciate life’s new meaning.
Chassidic masters tell us that what is accomplished on high with the tears and sombreness of the High Holidays can be accomplished on Succot through joy.
Though I spend much of my day with the elderly, as a parent blessed with five beautiful children I am a daily witness to finding joy in every moment of existence. Halevay, if we adults could learn from their cheer. Sadly, after expereincing life’s struggles and disappointments, that smile tends to disipate in some adults. Happiness, these days, is a serious problem.
Succot is the season of “our” joy, it’s a window of opportunity to access our inner rapture. How? Not by staying alone but by joining with others. It is a time for family gathering and festivity with friends.
We sit, each with our unique personalities and voices, embraced together by the succah. When we sing, the joy becomes contagious. In song, we are all united in a single rythm and a single melody. Together we harmonise – realising that we each have our own indespensible purpose to contribute to society.
And that joy was Moshe’s final message to us. Our Judaism must be celebrated, and then its music will inspire us, our families and all those around us. We will not be able to help but dance to its tune.
The motto of our Chabad Seniors Club is “Less Oy. More Joy”. If you know any seniors who can use an extra infusion of joy in their lives, then know that you have what it takes to uplift them.
Wherever we are and with whomever we are, we can sing. Let our songs reach the greatest heights of joy for us and for all. To life!