Parashat Ha’azinu-- Deuteronomy 32:1-52
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Questions for Younger Children
• What’s your favorite poem? Do you like poems? Why?
• God is often called a Rock (Tzur) in this poem. In what ways do you think God might be like a rock?
• God is also compared to an eagle in the poem. In what ways is God like an eagle?
• If you had to compare God to something in nature, what would you choose and why?

Questions for Older Children
• Why do you think Moshe chose to speak to B’nei Yisrael in a poem when he bids farewell to them?
• In this poem, we can infer from verse 7 that history was related orally from generation to generation. What’s the advantage of oral history over written history? What do you think about visual history?
• What’s the disadvantage of oral history?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• Why is a poem the choice for Moshe’s farewell address in your opinion?
• What’s Moshe’s message?
• If you have a Tanakh handy, compare Ha’azinu with Psalm 90. 
• What do you learn about Israelite society as you look at the analogies, metaphors, and similes in the poem?

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Parashat Ha'azinu is only one chapter, a chapter of poetry recited by Moshe to B’nei Yisrael. It begins with the command, “Ha’azinu!” (Listen!) Even n the face of his imminent death, Moshe’s poem is brimming with praise for God and God’s deeds and filled with remonstrance against the Israelites. The conclusion is a plea to B’nei Yisrael to take the words of the poem to heart and teach them to their children. The Torah, according to Moshe is “your very life” (v. 47). The parasha ends with God’s command to Moshe to ascend Mt. Nebo and prepare for his death.

Find the food connection...

.וַיֵּנִקֵהוּ דְבַשׁ מִסֶּלַע,  וְשֶׁמֶן מֵחַלְמִישׁ צוּר

He fed him honey from the crag, and oil from the flinty rock.
--Deuteronomy 32:13b

Dipping apples in honey is a memory we create on Rosh haShana. If you have extra honey, try a chicken dish that makes use of fall’s honey harvest and reminds us of the lines of the poem above.

The Side Dish

Ha’azinu-Listen! It’s an ideal Shabbat for family stories. We absorb most of our information visually today, but there’s much to be said for a family oral tradition. This week Moshe is offering his oral review. We don’t know the reaction of the Israelites. Test the reactions of your family as you share a familiar family tale with new generations. In the context of this month and Rosh Hashana, we think of t’shuvah, repentance, or returning to God by making amends. Perhaps this week it’s time for family members to make amends at the dinner table. Maybe in your family this is done person to person, in a more private way. But, there’s always room for a story about forgiveness and asking forgiveness.

Here’s my family memory about t’shuva. Our dad was very hard of hearing, yet he was a successful businessman. Perhaps because of his disability he could sense our emotions even if he couldn’t hear the details of a tale we related to him. He could be irascible especially if we didn’t speak loud enough, but he was quick with a hug and kiss. Every Rosh Hashana, he came to each of us children and asked us for forgiveness. It seemed so incongruent with our everyday dad to hear our dad speak with genuine contrition every year. I didn’t feel my dad really needed my forgiveness. I was humbled by his asking. He let me know he realized that I absorbed each word he said. He set a pattern for me and modeled an approach to my own children. 

May this be a Shabbat to tell stories and to find ways to return everyone to the family table feeling at peace with each other.




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A Dash of Farewell
Moshe chose to speak in a poetic form to say farewell to his people. Note not just the form, but the content of his message. Few of us will be told where and when we will die. But, we make preparations like a will or a health care directive. In medieval times it became common to produce an ethical will. This, like Moshe’s poem, affords a person the opportunity to share values and thoughts with family. If you want more information on ethical wills, check Rabbi Jack Riemer’s brief essay on the topic. For a bibliography on ethical wills, see:
You may have delayed writing a will thinking you have few material possessions to pass on, but each of us has wisdom to relay to other generations. All you need is a pen and paper to get started on an ethical will.

A Dash of Shopping
Our family enjoys honey shopping at the Farmer’s Market. Although the honey bear container from the grocery is endearing, the variety of flavors of honey you  find at the Farmers’ Market is astonishing. Test a few to see whether your taste runs to the flowery or the bold. Our family favorite is buckwheat honey—a very strong flavor.  If you live in Israel where there are at least 500 apiaries you can taste wildflower, citrus, avocado blossom, starthistle, siziphus (acacia blossom), jujube Chinese date flower along with other varieties.  And there's always silan--the delicious date honey. Whatever you chose, enjoy a sweet new year. Below is the starthistle--also known as knapweed.



A Dash of Music
Since this is Shabbat Ha’azinu (Listen!), it seems appropriate to hear some music that might be unfamiliar to you. Moshe calls God a Rock, Tzur. If you have a Shabbat songbook, you should be able to find the Shabbat song, Tzur Mishelo Akhalnnu. If you know the tune, enjoy it this week and join Moshe’s chorus. If you don’t know the song, try listening to this version of Tzur Mishelo: Even those of you who already include Tzur Mishelo in your weekly Shabbat singing may discover this tune is new to you.
This song acknowledges God as the Rock who provides our food and allows us to eat until we are satisfied.

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Honeyed Chicken
Serves 8

Ingredientsrsz honeyed chicken dvarim 09 5 copy

  • 1 cup honey at room temperature
  • ¾ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup finely minced ginger or grated fresh ginger. (It will take about 1 4” thick piece of ginger)
  • ¼ cup minced garlic (8-12 cloves)
  • 2 chickens cut-up or the equivalent in chicken parts
  • 5 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces


  1. Whisk honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small bowl until well blended.
  2. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking pan, skin side down.
  3. Add the green onions, scattering them over the chicken.
  4. Pour the honey ginger sauce on top and stir to mix so the marinade gets into all the “crags.”
  5. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Let the chicken marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350º. Bake the chicken covered for 30 min.
  7. Uncover, turn the chicken skin side up, and increase the oven temperature to 375º. Continue baking about 30-40 min. longer. The sauce should be a rich, dark brown.
  8. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.

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