Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah–Ha’azinu

The Holy days are now behind us. We spent full days in prayer and a full ten days trying to figure out how to turn the errors in judgment from last year into successful engagements for the year to come. We spent time concentrating on the blessings we bring and experience with others in ways that help us make them grow and spread to others in the coming year. We apologized and exonerated; we pledged to investigate our souls; we committed ourselves to better serving and involving ourselves in our communities. The goal of the holy days was to make heaven and earth touch.

Just days after the last shofar blast of the season, as we reach the penultimate Torah portion in the cycle, we recall the end of Moses’ farewell address. He sings his final words and begins the song reminding us of the power that comes when heaven and earth touch. “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Let the earth hear the words of my mouth! My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass. (Deut 32:1–2)” The heavens and the earth will stand in attention, side by side, as God speaks and recalls that the heavens are to pour forth the waters to sustain the earth; and the earth, in absorbing the gift of the rains will bring forth the vegetation to feed all life.

There is no escaping the truth that heaven and earth … and all life on earth are interconnected. What happens to one of us has an impact on all of us. If the rains stop, the earth experiences drought. If one of us takes ill, all who depend on us go without. On Yom Kippur, we read (from slightly earlier in Deuteronomy) that the covenant of faith is universal. It is beyond nobody’s reach. It exists for all time and for all people.

I think it is time to respect that men and women are equal, that all races share the same dignity, that irrespective of gender orientation or choice, love is a universal and inalienable family value, that war begets only more violence in retaliation. The problems that plague this world cannot be solved with the same mindsets … often the same minds that perpetuate them. If we meant what we said on Yom Kippur, that the world must change, then we must be the agents of change. The heavens and the earth stand aligned with us … as the psalmist says, the Earth is God’s as is all that exists on it. It is time to listen to the heavens and the earth speak, and let the simpatico that exists between them foster a new simpatico between us. On that day, God will be one an God’s name shall be one … and we will be one. Shabbat Shalom.