The Past, the Present and the Future
October 7, 2022
By Robin Kurss

How many times did we hear as children “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason?” As adults, we learn that listening is an art worth cultivating. 

This week’s Torah portion is Ha’azinu, the final portion in our annual reading cycle, which means “give ear,” an expression meaning listen to this. It is the first word of the Song of Moses, which begins with the words “Ha’azinu, O Heavens, and let me speak” (Deuteronomy 32:1). The reading consists of a poem delivered by Moses to the people of Israel before his death. It is a reflection on the past, criticizing the sins of the Israelites, describing the misfortunes that will befall them and finally a promise for the future if they follow G-d’s commandments. Moses wants the people to learn from their past mistakes in order to live good lives once they have settled in the promised land. Then G-d tells Moses to climb Mount Nebo, so that he can see the land and the future of his people before he dies. 

Rabbi Susan Friedman states that “In his final speech, Moses warns against repeating his mistakes, but he also communicates the passion and love we need to achieve our potential.”  Moses wanted the Israelites to understand that there is potential for good in every generation. 

As the New Year Holy Days round the corner into Sukkot, we complete the work of Teshuvah, listening to our own hearts, hearing our soul speak to us about who we were, who we are and who we want to be. We listen to the lessons we have learned in life in order to seek a path towards meaning, learning and growth. In this way, we return to our true selves and seek our true potential. This time of year, gives us a clean slate to re-imagine how we want to move forward. We each have a poem of our lives and a voice to be heard. The most important thing is to listen to it! 

Robin Kurss is a Director of Jewish Experience at LiNK Jewish Buffalo

The Past, the Present and the Future - Jewish thought of the week graphic