Click here to receive the weekly parsha by email each week.

Rosh Hashana - Parshat Ha'azinu

"May my mission upon which i am embarking be successful"

(From the Meditation of the Shaliach Tzibur before Musaf)



"Do not be quick with your mouth; do not be hasty with your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. " (Eccl 5:1)

Ibn Ezra delineates the proper way to worship God, in his eyes. Firstly, Man should have a permanent place of worship that he respects. Secondly, Man should praise God at every moment, even though he is busy in his worldly affairs. He has been given set times of prayer, evening, morning and afternoon which any simple person can know by following the movements of the sun. Ibn Ezra also comes out strongly against reciting piyutim that are mystic and obscure and one does not fully comprehend. He mentions, in particular, Rabbi Eliezer Hakalir, an important composer of liturgy, who wrote mostly in riddles and parables. He beseeches us to learn from King Solomon, who was the wisest of men, to keep our prayers short and mindful. Ibn Ezra alludes to vanity as being evil and that adding to the set liturgy indicates ignorance and leading to transgression.

(Introduction to Parshat Nitzavim Rabbenu Behayei)


Happy new year to all our readers, all of israel and to all mankind

A year of peace, justice and serenity

May this year and its curses end and a new year with its blessings begin

May we be inscribed in the book of life for your sake, the living god



What is jeremiah's connection to the new year?

Yoel Kretzmer-Raziel

Although Rosh Hashanah inaugurates a new yearly cycle, this holiday continues the liturgical cycle of the previous year. Firstly, the month of Elul, is constructed as a prelude to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the recitation of Mizmor LeDavid, Slichot and the blowing of the shofar - thereby arriving at Rosh Hashanah within a specific context.

Secondly, the haftorahs. As we know, from the Shabbat after the 17th of Tammuz and up to the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, the sequence of the haftorahs changes. Three haftorahs of doom and destruction precede Tisha B'Av, and afterwards we have seven haftorahs of consolation. The epicenter of this series is Tisha B'Av, with the many consolations tipping the scale. The prophecies of consolation, all from the latter half of Isaiah, terminate before Rosh Hashanah, and the stage is clear for a new context.

The haftorah of the second day of R "H, provides us with an alternative outlook as to the place of R "H in the yearly calendar. After we read about Hannah on the first day, we read Jeremiah's emotional prophecy on the second - "found favor in the wilderness " (31:1). The common assumption is that this haftorah emphasizes remembrance. ("For as I speak, I will remember" 31:1) This prophecy is considered a real prophecy of consolation. After seven haftorahs were chosen from a range of chapters of consolation from the latter half of Isaiah, comes an additional prophecy of consolation, albeit from Jeremiah - Jeremiah?? Consolation?? In fact, this haftorah is part of a small and exceptional chapter in a book that was branded by our sages as "devoted entirely to destruction" (B"B 14:72). The choice of this haftorah for Rosh Hashanah creates a continuum - continuation of the consolation sequence - and innovation - a switch from Isaiah to Jeremiah. Yet more - a framework has been created: The sequence of special haftorahs opens with two haftorahs of doom from Jeremiah (and more prophecies of doom from Isaiah). Now we return to Jeremiah, with this haftorah that alludes to the opening chapter of Jeremiah that we recited after the 17th of Tammuz:


Jeremiah Jeremiah 31

Thus said the Lord Thus said the Lord

I remember the grace of your youth, the love of your betrothed Found grace in the wilderness

How you followed me in the wilderness With everlasting love I love you

The return to Jeremiah should be understood against the backdrop of the entire book. It is thought that the formative events of the Book of Jeremiah occur on the eve of the destruction of Jerusalem, 150 years earlier. According to the Book of Kings, after the Assyrian army destroyed the kingdom of Israel, and exiled its inhabitants, and the rest of the Judean cities were destroyed, the Assyrian army encircled Jerusalem. Against all odds, the angel of God smote the Assyrian camp and Sanherib retreated to Nineveh. The miraculous victory, with the support of Isaiah's prophecy (32:19), and with the answering of Hezekiah's prayers in the temple, lays the background for Jeremiah's suspicions. Jeremiah's struggle takes place in opposition to the accepted belief that the miraculous rescue is a result of the prayers in God's house, and that prayer is the answer to the threats to the Kingdom of Judea. The hubris found in the Book of Deuteronomy ("My strength and my power have prevailed") is tainted with over reliance in the temple and the miraculous rescue, as well as the self-fulfilling prophecy. From the beginning of his prophecy, Jeremiah is enabled to withstand the pressure from the kings and the people, who hope that "good prophecy" can overcome the threatening circumstances. Throughout the whole ordeal, Jeremiah refuses to surrender to the enormous emotional and physical pressure put on him, almost as an antithesis to Isaiah's prophecy during the Assyrian siege.

Isaiah has a threefold worldview. There is no security in the temple per se; the society must improve its ways in order to survive; there is a need to read the international political map realistically and there is no point in rebelling against the

Jeremiah's cleverness is expressed in his consolation. This is a melancholy consolation - "They shall come with weeping, and with compassion will I guide them." (31:9), with restraint, "Restrain your voice from weeping (31:16), that emphasizes the negation of the destruction ("And they will mourn no more" 31:11; "Parents have eaten sour grapes and children's teeth are blunted" (31:29) "They shall never again be uprooted or overthrown" (31:40), more than the abundance of good. This is how the prophecy differs from the rose-tinted and optimistic prophecies of consolation of Isaiah that are read before Rosh Hashanah.

The positioning of Rosh Hashanah in this framework of the haftorahs of doom and consolation serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it creates a framework (doom in Jeremiah > doom in Isaiah > consolation in Isaiah > consolation in Jeremiah), in which even the doom of Jeremiah is consoling.

Secondly, it gives another meaning to Rosh Hashanah. We are not speaking about embarking on a journey, but rather the zenith of the journey that began with the month of Tammuz. In the familiar structure of 7+1, the haftorah of R "H is presented the eighth and final segment of consolation. Thus, the epicenter of the series of haftorahs of doom and consolation shifts from Tisha B'Av to Rosh Hashanah.

However, this highpoint is qualified. Rosh Hashanah can console, but this consolation must be controlled, reserved and cautious, also calling out, "Receive me back, let me return " (31:18).

Yoel Kretzmer-Raziel, a member of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, teaches at Mercaz Herzog for Jewish Studies as well as in other institutions. He is a doctoral student in Talmud at Ben-Gurion University.


Horn and shofar

The shofar has two names: keren, a horn, for its physical shape, the horny substance of which it is made, Shofar, as in the inner space that illicit and moderates the sound.

In the beast, the horn signifies strength and power. A beast directs all its weight when attacking through its horns. He doesn't utilize the "inner " shofar of the horn. The people of Israel were commanded to use this horn for a different purpose, a human imperative, a Jewish imperative. Blessed is the nation that knows the sound of the shofar. By using the shofar, the inner horn, and not the "outer horn ", the sound, not the power, we change the sentence of the horn to the mercy of the shofar.

Although it is still necessary to use the keren, the horn, in a world surrounded by raging bulls, at every turn, we cannot rely on the shofar alone. We are in need of a keren, a physical horn, to protect us. We also pray for the revival of the "keren " the light of your servant David, even though this is only a means to rekindle the light of the son of Jesse as Messiah. A candle projects light in its path. It influences, educates, elucidates and explains. The horn, the keren, however should defer to the inner shofar.

(R. Jacob Ariel: The Shofar and its Horn, from: Ohalei Torah, from the passage from the R"H Machzor, Ed. By Yonadiv Kaplon, p.139)


Rabbi Meir of Rotenberg would say "L'chaim with a shva rather than lachaim with a patah. L'chaim meaning to life, and lachaim meaning for life, which is actually from no life. He would say "to a good life, and build up to "and inscribe us for a good life ", for one should first ask for something small and then build up to something big, as in life itself. In Psalms, David begs for forgiveness for sins made in error, then for transgressions that were willful and only then grave sins. So righteous people know how to please their maker, as it is said, "The lips of the righteous know your will... "

(Tor Or Haim 4182)


The Sound of Teruah - Sob or Sigh?

The Holy One, Blessed Be He, Does Not Differentiate Between One Cry and Another

Throughout the years and in most of the Diaspora, there have existed doubts regarding the nature of the teruah mentioned in the Torah. Is it the wail of wailing women? Or is it a sigh, such as that which a person sighs again and again when his heart is greatly troubled? Or is it the two together, the sigh and the sob which usually follows it, for this is the nature of one deeply worried, first he sighs and then he wails. Therefore we execute all three.

 (Rambam, Laws of Shofar 3:2)


"You shall observe a day of teruah" - and we interpret this: You shall observe a day of sobbing." It is written in connection with the mother of Sisera (Judges 5): "Through the window peered Sisera's mother, behind the lattice she whined." One [authority] says she sighed, and another says she wailed.

(Bavli, Rosh Hashanah 33b)


Heavy sighing - As one who sighs heavily from his heart, like sick people

Wailing - like a man who cries out and wails, short bursts of crying.

(Rashi, R "H 33:72)


Said Rabbi Elazar: From the day the Temple was destroyed, the gates of prayer have been shut, as is written (Eicha 3:8) "And when I cry and plead, He shuts out my prayer."

"Listen o heavens": Because Moses was close to heaven, he said "Listen O heavens " because he was far from the land, he said: "Let the earth hear the words I utter ". Isaiah comes along and turns it upside down and said, "Hear the heavens and listen to the land' (Isaiah 1). Listen to the heavens because he was far from the heaven and hear the earth as he was far from the earth.

(Sifri Hazinu 306)


Heaven and earth are the components of man

Man is composed of the spiritual part which is symbolized by heaven and materiel parts expressed by the earth. When God addresses the spiritual man, he uses the softer tones of listen, but when he has harsh words to say to man , he uses "hear " as in "the earth hears ".

(Ohr Hachaim Deut, 32:1)


But even though the gates of prayer were shut, the gates of tears were not shut, as is written (Psalms 39:13) "Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my cry; do not disregard my tears; for like all my forebears I am an alien, resident with You."

(Bavli, B "M 59:71)


Our success is dependent on our spiritual position and not in our military strength

"How can one have routed a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, the Lord had given them up? "

(Devarim 32:30)


"How can one have routed a thousand" - If you do not observe the Torah, how can I keep my promise to you? You asked that one of you rout a thousand, and two, ten thousand; now one of the nations routs a thousand and two, ten thousand.

"For their rock is not like our Rock" - the authority which you give us is unlike the authority which you give them; when you give them supremacy, they behave towards us with brutality, killing, burning, and crucifying us.

"Though our enemies are judges" - You had decreed for us that a foe may not serve as witness or judge, as is written, "and he not be his enemy" (Devarim 35) - he shall testify; "and did not seek his harm" - he shall judge him - but you appointed over us enemies to be witnesses and judges.

(Sifrei, Haazinu, Pesikta 323)


Had not Israel been forsaken by its Rock, had not the Rock of Israel wanted Israel to be enslaved by the nations - and to this end, surrendered Israel to their hands - had the conflict between the nations and Israel been a struggle between the rock of the nations and the Rock of Israel, then not Israel, but the nations, would have been defeated, Israel would not have been vanquished. The rock of the nations cannot stand up to the Rock of Israel.

(Rabbi Shimshon R. Hirsch on Devarim 32:30-31)


Good and upright is the Lord: the Option of Correction is one of God's Graces 

Good and upright is the Lord. How is He good? In that He is upright. How is He upright? In that He is good.

They asked wisdom: What is the sinner's punishment? It said: Evil will pursue the sinners (Proverbs 13:21).

They asked prophecy: What is the sinner's punishment? It said: The soul which sins shall die.

They asked the Torah: What is the sinner's punishment? It said: Let him bring a guilt-offering and it will be atoned.

They asked the Holy One, blessed be He: What is the sinner's punishment? He said: Let him repent and it shall be atoned for him, as it is written: The Lord is good and upright; therefore, He leads sinners on the way, [meaning] that He shows sinners the way for them to repent

(Yalkut Shimoni Tehilim 25, 702)


Repentance from Love and from Fear

Reish Lakish said: Great is repentance, for it makes deliberate sins count as accidental ones, for it is said, Return, O Israel to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled in sinning (Hosea 14:2). A sin is deliberate, but he calls it a stumbling block!

Could this be?

Did Reish Lakish not say: Great is repentance, for it makes deliberate sins count as merits, for it is said, And when a wicked man turns back from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by virtue of these (Ezekiel 33:19). It is not a problem: Here [-the latter - refers to repentance] out of love [of God], here [-the former - refers to repentance] out of fear [of God].

(Yoma 86b)


Repentance raises a person up from all of the low-places of the world, but even so, it is not a stranger to the world. Rather, it lifts up the world and life with itself. It refines sinful tendencies. The powerful will, which breaks through all limits and causes sin is itself transformed into a living force that performs great and lofty works for the good and for a blessing.

(From Rabbi A.I. Kook ztz"lAl Ha-Teshuva)


The repentance which brings about a radical transformation of a whole way of life leading to a rebirth of the personality is repentance of redemption; another type of repentance, unlike this kind, is directed against a specific sin - it is repentance of expiation.

(Rabbi Joseph SoloveitchikOn Repentance, Pinchas H. Peli, editor, pg. 174)


Dear Friends

We have nearly completed our 16th season of SHABBAT SHALOM.

We have brought you, dear readers, weekly articles, divrei Torah, sermons, and commentary that express the meaning of Judaism from our sources, with messages of justice, peace and honoring all that are created in God's image.

The pillar of our financial support is a Dutch Foundation committed to peace and justice. Our emotional support comes from you, our devoted and supportive readers, who volunteer to write divrei Torah, illustrate each issue, deliver Shabbat Shalom to synagogues and institutions around the country, support our website and contribute to our continued publication.

Over the past several years the values of the Euro and USD have decreased significantly and OzveShalom's budget has been adversely affected.

The continued weekly publication of Shabbat Shalom, without advertisement and with its internationally read English translation, requires you more than ever as loyal partners in spreading the word of "Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace"

Shabbat Shalom is a unique Israeli publication. Please contribute to its continuation.

Tax deductible donations in Israel may be sent as checks payable to OzveShalom to:


Miriam Fine

9 Dustrovsky St. Apt 4

Jerusalem 9339806


For a US tax deductible donation, the New Israel Fund may be used as the conduit. Contributions should be marked as donor-advised to Oz veShalom, the Shabbat Shalom project, with mention of the registration number 5708.


If you wish to subscribe to the email English editions of Shabbat Shalom, to print copies of it for distribution in your synagogue, to inquire regarding the dedication of an edition in someone's honor or memory, to find out how to make tax-exempt donations, or to suggest additional helpful ideas, please call Miriam Fine at +972-52-3920206 or at


Issues may be dedicated in honor of an event, person, simcha, etc. Requests must be made 3-4 weeks in advance to appear in the Hebrew, 10 days in advance to appear in the English email.


Shabbat Shalom is available on our website:

For responses and arranging to write for Shabbat