Songs Haazinu

Parshas Haazinu Songs

Soul SistersDay #182

This week is Parshas Haazinu, Moshe's song. It is a sad melancholy song. A song that Moshe sang right before his death. In the Torah there is another famous song, Az Yashir, and that is a more happy, joyous tune, one full of appreciation, after Bnei Yisroel miraculously and successfully go through Krias Yam Suf. And isn't that the song of our life? 

Sometimes we sing sad, painful tunes, and sometimes the more happy and joyous ones. Whatever it is, a song is an expression of our heart, of our soul, the emotions, the feelings, the experiences that we are going through at that moment. And yet, our heart, our soul, has to be ripped open enough for the song to enter, for the music to be expressed through that opened heart and soul. And sometimes still, a heart, a soul, a song, can carry both. As we know, a heart is a muscle and is able to expand and hold happy and sad. And sometimes the song represents both. Parshas Haazinu is such a song.

On his deathbed, Moshe calls to the heavens and the earth to bear witness to the calamities that will befall the nation if it sins, and the ultimate joy that will come at the final redemption. What beautiful words he sings, but what also frightening painful words he sings. For sometimes, we are in the mood to hear a sad song, and sometimes we are in the mood to hear an upbeat tune. And sometimes we need a song to represent all of the above. But whatever it is, the song can bring up emotions, deep buried emotions, and sometimes emotions that are on the surface. They can contrap people, place, and things, and those can be happy triggers. Who here forgets that music that was played at our chuppah? Or they can be triggers of lost loved ones, of beautiful music that they enjoyed or they sang. Has anyone ever had somebody sing to you or sing for you? What a beautiful, special, intimate, incomparable expression of love and connection.

Our brain, in the right side, the right hemisphere of our brain, is verbal communication - we speak and we verbalize. The left side is silence - deep emotions, whether its joy or trauma and deep pain reside on the left side. Those things that we cannot describe, or too difficult to sverbalize. Music is also found on the left side of our brain. Very interesting and very fascinating. Music can bring up, can express emotions that are hidden from long ago.

My daughters, when they were in Fifth grade, had a teacher that taught everything through music. The capitals, my girls would come home and sing the song of the capitals until the whole family knew them. At parent orientation, this teacher explained that her grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's. She didn't recognize anybody, not any of her family, but yet she sang the songs of her youth. Music is a form of expression. And would it surprise you to know that music, song, is also a form of tefillah.

According to Rav Shimshon Pinkus in Shearim Betefilah, rinah, song, is one of the ten gateways to prayer. Hashem is listening. He is waiting for you to express yourself in any which way you can or you want, certainly through song. Haazinu, the word haazinu, comes from the word "ozen," as in "to listen." You can sing your song and He is listening.

Rav Nachman says about the pasuk, "I shall sing to my G-d from what's left in me; אזמרה לאלוקי בעודי," from whatever point I am at, I know I sing to You, Hashem. I know You are listening. So sing to Hashem. Open your heart and let the deepest emotions, the deepest feeling, whether they are happy and joy and hakaras hatov, whether they are sad and painful and difficult, sing to Hashem. Express them to Hashem. Especially now with the Yom Tov of Sukkos coming, while we are sitting in our Sukkah and we are feeling enveloped by Hashem's love, we are feeling held by Hashem, we are invited in to His Sukkah. He wants us to talk to Him, and sometimes that talk can come through the form of song. So whether you're sitting by yourself and you're singing a quiet song to Hashem, or with your friends and family and singing niggunim of shevach, hodaah, or songs of pain and sadness, sing to Hashem. He is listening.

And with that I wish you a wonderful Shabbos. May we all be zocheh to hear the songs of the Leviim. As Rabbi Shlomo Katz says, the songs of the Leviim can break open any person's heart. May we be zocheh to hear those songs together, have our hearts all broken, broken in a good way, by the songs of the Leviim in the Bais Hamikdash. With that I wish you a beautiful, uplifting Shabbos, and a wonderful Sukkos. May it really be a Zman Simchaseinu for all of us, for everybody. May we be zocheh to celebrate together in the Sukkah of Yerushalayim, במהירה בימינו אמן.

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We have real free will - shall we sing along with the blessings Hashem is sending, or shall we sing along with the accusations the Soton is making?

If we are not singing along with the blessings Hashem is sending, the default is that we are adding our voice to the forces of darkness.

May we understand how deeply within us this choice is being made. It is happening as invisibly to us as the true reality that we will and the forces of nature move our body in response - we think we are in control, but we do not have autonomous independent control. In the same way, at that same invisible level, our subconscious is seduced when we momentarily lapse from devekus in Hashem.

Here is the basic seduction. It goes all the way back to the eating of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why did Adom eat? He felt inadequate because he was a creation and it was unattainable for him to be Hashem, the Creator. That pain was excruciating. Just look at the way liittle children all want the same exact toy at the same time. We can see what it must have felt like. As great as Adom was, Hashem made him so he is inadequate. But Hashem desires to have a relationship with us where we feel the perfect pleasure of His Giving. For that, we need to be able to do something to resolve that sense of inadequacy inherent in being a creation. Thus Hashem gives us real free will and the creative power of speech so that we have causative G*d-like force on a microcosmic scale within our personal inner worlds to choose to be like Hashem. We CAN be the creative force in our inner worlds and in so doing, by wielding these microscopically applied creative forces to our own free will, we inoculate ourselves for all eternity from feeling inadequate because we are not Hashem. Why? We will have the experience of what the Creator does, and that will be enough to assuage our feelings of inadequacy. However, because this is all in our unconscious, the feelings of inadequacy play ot in the realm of the material and physical world where the resolution IS totally unattainable. Our adequacy comes from our remembering to use the creative powers He gives us to actually be G*d-like and choose to sing along with His Compassion, overriding our pulls and urges in the direction of darkness.

It is easy for the yetzer hara to take us one more step into the dark. We already have inherent inadequacy built in. All the yetzer hara has to do is get us to think its thoughts, from the daas sitras achra, about how to restore adequacy. Now there are two layers of separation from remembering to make the effort to be like Hashem. How can we distinguish the messages of the daas sitras achra when it feels so real to us? We must learn Torah and have emunah. But we also need tools to face our inner thoughts.

The process below offers a litmus test for our thoughts to help us discern more clearly the origin of the thought - intuition from our tzelem elokim in concert with Hashem’s blessings or something else?

When we see it is something else, we have our work cut out for us - to do a G(dlike effort using free will and speech to beseech Hashem to help us remove what is blocking us from feeling and revealing the true expression of the spiritual value within us.

Towards that end, it is helpful to know a story about Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa. In his town, there was a hole in the road. A poisonous snake lived in it and people would accidentally step on the hole and get bitten and die from the poison. The townspeople ran to Rabbi Chanina. Rabbi Chanina went to the hole, placed his heel on the opening, the snake bit him, he pulled his foot up drawing out the snake, and killed the snake. He did not die from the poison. He said, “snakes don’t kill, aveiras do.” and the townspeople cried out, woe to the snake that meets Rabbi Chanina.

Why is this story important?

We all have an initial response to pain and discomfort, and that is called sad mad bad - if something gives me a feeling of loss, I feel angry or hurt and have a need to express the pain, usually in a hurtful way - judgmental, angry, depressively, self-destructively, etcetera. This is also called fight or flight response. However, it is not just occasionally that we are involved with this mechanism. It is often throughout the day, depending on our thinking and our understanding of our thinking.

It behooves us to have self-knowledge so that we are able to spot whether we are singing along with Hashem’s blessings or not. If not, it behooves us to regain our footing, to regulate our emotions, so that we may choose to sing along again with Hashem - and then take action if need be.

Many times, we are sent a test not for the outcome of how we will show compassion but rather for the opportunity to “pull the snake” out of our subconscious. We want to uproot the falsehoods that are poisoning our lives, blocking us from being loving and from feeling lovable.

To uproot these, we need a safe process in which we may feel and express what is coming up, a process where we understand we are seeking to nullify the husks and redeem the spiritual value - the Shechina - within it. We wish to express the compassion of the redeemed spiritual value through our speech and deeds, singing along with Hashem.

Below is a process under development. It is constantly being improved.

The litmus test for our thoughts are:

1, whose survival is the thought going to preserve? My best interests or the survival of the Soton by drawing off my soul?

2. What is the lie that I am operating automatically on? Say it out loud. Do I feel the falsehood?

3. Appreciate the opportunity to make an effort that is causative, using free will and speech. This is an opportunity to act like Hashem, to be on a small scale, like Hashem. We can make a causative effort toward a change in our nature by sincerely asking with understanding, wisdom, emunah, and trust in Hashem..