Shirat Ha’azinu (The Song of Deep Listening)

Compose this song for all your generations.  Imprint it in the memory of the Children of Israel. Bequeath them a song to sing that will bear witness to My eternal Presence among them.  (Devarim 31:19).

On the last day of his life, Moshe received the inspiration to compose: Ha’azinu, the song of deep listening.  (Devarim 32:1).  For each year, as we complete the Torah, we lose a Moshe, in preparation for the birth of a new Moshe, the part of ourselves that can hear the vibrations of divine guidance and speak it as oral Torah in the New Year.  When the old year’s Moshe recognizes its impermanence, it condenses its entire Torah into a song.

For I know that without me, you won’t be able follow the way that I have been guiding you without going astray and that ultimately something that seems really bad will happen to you when you act in ways that disturb Be-ing.  So Moshe whispered the words of this song into the collective memory of all Israel.  (Devarim 31: 29-30).

Listen deeply…. The Slonimer Rebbe says that this song is the most important parashah in the entire Torah.

Balance the higher portions of the soul when I AM speaks, so that your body can also hear what is coming through.  (Devarim 32:1).

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us how important it is to make sure that our bodies have a share in the lessons that our souls are learning.   As our Torah says of Herself, I am not just way up in Heaven… (Devarim 30:12). The greatness of Torah is not its lofty abstractions, but its power to make us more whole and integrated, right here in the manifest world.  When our minds are calm and integrated with our bodies, we can unite Heaven and Earth and receive the lessons we need to positively affect what needs to be fixed in our worlds. To be effective, we need to develop the capacity to speak from the Heart.  As the Talmud says:

Whoever speaks while aware of the Divine Presence will be heard… (B.T. Blessings 6b).

With this teaching in mind, the Rebbe Elimelekh reads the verse like this:

Make sure you are aware that Heaven is listening whenever you speak, and then your words will have the power to enter other people’s hearts.  (Devarim 32:1).

Let me receive Torah from above like rain and let my prayer nurture growth below like dew… (Devarim 32:2).

For I am bringing forth a new Name for Be-ing and making the G-dfield ever greater. (Devarim 32:3).

It is a Hasidic teaching that as a result of our teshuvah practice, between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we can draw down a new and more evolved manifestation of Be-ing (YHVH) into the New Year.  When we think of G-d in too rigid a way, it makes our G-dfield too limited.  Because we are made in the Divine image, when our G-d is too limited, our potential is also limited.  Just as we need a new Moshe, we also need a new G-d in order for our souls and the world to evolve.

The Ba’al Shem Tov told an odd parable that may seem shocking, but is really liberating when properly understood:

Once a Queen wanted to test the gratitude of Her subjects.  So She went out among them to distribute alms to the beggars of Her realm.  There was one old woman, who whenever anyone gave her anything, would only say, “whatever you give, comes back to you.”  Even when the Queen gave the old woman alms, she only said: “whatever you give, comes back to you.”  The Queen was furious when she heard how the beggar responded to Her gift.  She went back to the castle and asked the royal baker to make some especially fine pastries that were laced with poison.  The pastries were delivered to the old woman. When she saw how fine the cakes were, the beggar decided to save them for the right occasion.  A little later, the Queen’s son passed by and asked the beggar woman if she had anything for him to eat.  She told him, “Yes, indeed. I have some very fine pastries from your Mother.”  The prince ate the cakes and died.  When the Queen realized that She was the cause of Her son’s death, She recalled the words of the old beggar woman: “whatever you give, comes back to you.”

As long as our souls are developing in this world, our G-d is also evolving.  Whenever we fall out of alignment with Be-ing, we “arouse Divine anger” and can expect to learn an appropriate lesson.

The Shaper of Life acts perfectly, all Its ways follow the law of a G-d who is in training with us; there is no meanness, Its actions are straightforward and direct. (Devarim 32:4).

Ultimately, G-d is also learning from our mutual dance.  Our pain is also the Shekhinah’s pain. What we may perceive as Divine disapproval is really G-d suffering along with us.

The Shekhinah is also impaired, the flaw is not just in Her children; the world is still unfolding, as yet only partially evolved. (Devarim 32:5).

One of our challenges is to recognize that we are not only the children of Divinity, but also called upon to be Divinity’s parents.

For Be-ing’s sake, won’t you be wise enough to rescue the Shekhinah?  Didn’t your Divine Source place you here in the World of Assiyah for that purpose? (Devarim 32:6).

The great kabbalist, Isaac Luria mythologizes this raising of the Shekhinah as the re-birthing of a new G-d.  According to the Lurianic kavvanot (deep visualization practice) we view the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur as a time when the old G-d undergoes surgery.  During this operation, the sefirot of the Divine Female (the G-dfield) are separated and expanded, while the previous year’s YHVH (the Source of Be-ing) is anesthetized.  When this operation has been completed, a new YHVH is awakened during the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot.  During Sukkot, the Divine union of male and female aspects of Divinity can be renewed.

How can we possibly call a new YHVH into existence?  Through the secret of:

Neutralize Divine judgment with kindness.  (Devarim 32:1)

We can let go of our presumptions concerning what we think the G-d in our minds requires in order to be pleased with us and with others.  Through greater kindness, which the Kabbalists call G-d’s greatness, we can now birth a kinder, greater G-d and draw a new YHVH into time and space.

We need to put the crystallized idea of last year’s G-d to sleep, so that an independent Shekhinah can break free of last year’s confining exile.  To accomplish this, we listen deeply to Moshe’s song.

Always remember that the manifest world including its current G-d is but one configuration of the sefirot (seven powers of divine emanation) that are constantly changing.  Turn to your Wisdom and receive guidance or ask your teachers and they will teach you.  (Devarim 32:7).

The way that the Supernal Source manifests in this world with its temporary boundaries and limitations always only reflects the present state of human consciousness. (Devarim 32:8).

The portion of Divine Be-ing that can be established within the realm of human experience depends on the people who can overcome their sense of limitation (without dissolving).  (Devarim 32:9).

Such a one finds Divine Be-ing even amidst the mournful pain of desolation and confusion.  Then Be-ing encompasses her, enlightens her, and preserves her like the apple of Her Eye. (Devarim 32:10).

Like a giant eagle arousing her young, Be-ing raises one so awakened to Herself, resting only in Divine Be-ing, one knows that no other power truly exists.  (Devarim 32:11-12).

The unpleasant expressions of Divine “tough love” are inevitable parts of the dialectic of our relationship of returning to and from Be-ing.  Regardless of how much we may feel trapped in them, Moshe’s song guides us to the deeper view:

See now that I AM Present in everything.  There is no other power besides Me.  I AM is the Destroyer and I AM is the Enlivener; I AM has wounded and I AM will heal. Beyond My reach there is No-thing.  (Devarim 32:39).

If we listen deeply enough to this song, we can begin to sense the limitless No-thing from which all the disparate modes of Be-ing emanate.  On Yom Kippur, we are instructed to ascend to a level of pure Divine Light that even precedes the emanation ofYHVH. This Shabbat, the Shabbat of Returning, may this song be our guide.

Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner