By Rabbi Ellen Dannin for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The Torah constantly puts us between a rock and a hard place . . . literally.
Take Ha'azinu, for example. A few years ago I first noticed something interesting about rocks while reading Ha'azinu, Moses' farewell poem. It is a poignant piece of literature, because it is impossible to read it without knowing that it is given in the shadow of his death. Even worse than his death, Moses is to be left behind as the children of Israel - the same people who have plagued his life through forty years in the desert - get to enter the Promised Land. Ha'azinu's gracious song of praise to God is a remarkable act under the circumstances.
Those circumstances become even more ironic, for hidden within that song, Moses seems to be twitting God. Moses refers to God as the "Rock." The parsha begins with Moses extolling God, saying, "The Rock! - His deeds are perfect, Yea, all His ways are just." (Deuteronomy 32:4) Again, this seems bittersweet, but when in context it seems mostly bitter.
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