November 19, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Ha’azinu with Rabbi Sivan Malkin Maas

Our guest this week is Rabbi Sivan Malkin Maas, Dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Rabbi Maas is the first Israeli rabbi ordained by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in 2003. In addition to serving as Dean of Tmura-IISHJ in Jerusalem, she is also director of “The Secular Library,” publishing works on Judaism as culture, and president of “Secular Judaism,” a coalition of Secular Humanistic projects and organizations in Israel. She has previously run the Jerusalem “Nachlavia” community council and served as a Jewish Agency emissary to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

This week's Torah portion – Parashat Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52) – features a prophetic poem which foretells the future of the Jewish people. Moses begins the oracular poem by calling the sky and the earth to listen to his prophetic warnings and he tells the story of how Israel has strayed from the ways of the lord, contrasting God's kindness and justness with Israel's corruption and tendency towards sin. He then stresses that following the misfortunes that will befall them due to their sinning, there will be a time when God will reconcile with his people and avenge their enemies. The Parasha concludes with God instructing Moses to climb up to mount Nevo from which he will see the Promised Land before his death. Our discussion focuses, among other things, on the optimistic and life affirming message in the final words of Moses.

If you would like to learn some more about Parashat Ha'azinu, check out our conversation with Rabbi Gidon Rothstein.