Meeting Din with Joy
Haazinu is the last parsha of the Torah for which a weekly reading is assigned. The Torah readings are being wrapped up in the last readings of the last book—Dvarim, which is, itself, a summary of the Torah. This is the time of the year for reflection and repentance, when all of our views of life are challenged, as we again read Moshe’s call on heaven and earth to witness the Covenant of the Torah.
On Rosh Hashana we ask G-d to “remember us for good,” and He asks
us to “remember the days of old”—the things He did for the generations of
Moshe proclaims that G-d is our Rock. This is a challenge to look deep inside ourselves to see our true view of G-d—not what we are “supposed to think”, but, rather, what we truly do think and feel about Him. Many people have a damaged view of G-d, based on injurious human relationships with parents, spouses, or friends. However, for most people, this is so deep that they are unaware of it themselves. The first step in having a relationship with “The Rock”, then, is to reflect honestly on that true feeling toward Him. Prayer and meditation in Torah can then bring the soul to Truth of who He is. Many people try to skip the first step and find themselves pretending, saying the things they feel they are supposed to say. The sad thing about this is that they will never get to a real relationship like that. They might find emotional highs and some type of spiritual experiences, but they will never find the connection with G-d necessary for those experiences to be genuine. Our world is full of people pretending to be what they think they are supposed to be rather than being who they truly are in G-d—who they came into the world to be. To find this, requires the divine attribute of din—judgment—which is misunderstood to be a negative concept.
Elohim created the world absolutely perfect. Every tree sunk its roots firmly into the earth, never to suffer rot or decay. Every animal walked in harmony with the other, never to suffer disease or injury. There was no flaw, no pain, no death. All was perfect—absolutely perfect. This was the world conceived in the mind of the Creator—the perfect world for which our souls still yearn. Yet this was the world of din, in which there was no room for flaw. When Adam disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world. In that world of din, he would have had to be destroyed. However, mercy entered, and a new world came into being. Into that world, that allowed for flaw and sin, evil was born, along with its consequences. Adam survived to live in a world of pain and sorrow, yearning for the world he had left, of absolute perfection, of din. Although he thanked Hashem for His mercy, he understood that the din of Elohim sets the balance.
Moshe admonished the people to adhere to the Torah, to strive for that perfect world that din would bring. Yet he, too, understood the value of Hashem’s mercy, and fervently appealed to it, as the people displayed weakness time and again. This mercy would carry them through the times of failure, as they strove for the perfect world of din. The poem of Haazinu foresees times when G-d would hide His face, but promises that He will again remember His people and restore them to the place He created for them in the world.
After King Shaul heard from the conjured spirit of Shmuel the Prophet that he was going to die, he took his sons and faced the Philistines in battle. (I Samuel chapters 28 and 31) He could have run from it, or at least sent his sons out of harm’s way, but he chose to face din, going to it, not just bravely, but joyfully. Shaul had gone to the witch of En-Dor after he had failed to receive divine guidance in every legitimate way, indicating that he was “forgotten.” He had erred beyond repentance, and Shmuel’s message helped him understand the consequences. However, he also understood that this world is not the ultimate, and finally accepted and bowed to G-d’s will. In din, Shaul was remembered by G-d, and he found the sweetness of it.
When we bow to G-d’s will, when we surrender our will to His and ask to be conformed into His image, we are entering din. The sweetness of this is that we thus come to know Him in a real way. We are not asking for Him to give us something or to change things in our lives, but rather we are asking to truly know Him. All the pretenses, the charades, fall away, transforming the stage of our lives with Truth. This is the path of Torah—the expression of His will in the world. This is the path of coming to know who He created us to be—our unique place and purpose in the world. This is the most profound thing we can ever pray.
May Hashem's Name be praised in all the earth!