Sky, Earth and the Four Winds (Haazinu)
A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high. -Fiona Macleod
The penultimate Torah reading is a song. The Song of Haazinu. It is prophetic, poetic, and often challenging to decipher. It hints at what the future will bring, what will happen to the people of Israel at the end of days and throughout their long journey, including rewards and punishments. The format, structure, and content of the Song of Haazinu are meant to stand out and to be taken to heart. The following is how it starts:
“Give ear, O heavens, let me speak;
Let the earth hear the words I utter!
May my discourse come down as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
Like showers on young growth,
Like droplets on the grass.”
The first two phrases are relatively straightforward, calling on the heavens and the earth to bear witness to the following song. However, the next four lines seem to repeat in different variations the theme of rain or water falling on the ground.
The Bechor Shor on Deuteronomy 32:2 explains that it’s a continuation of the first two phrases and that Moses is calling on additional witnesses to this song besides the heavens and the earth. He is calling upon the four winds to also bear witness. He explains the connection to each wind as follows:
“May my discourse come down as the rain,” refers to the West Wind which comes from the nape of the world and normally brings rain.
“My speech distill as the dew,” refers to the North Wind which is as pleasant as dew (in Israel).
“Like showers on young growth,” is the South Wind which is as stormy as thundershowers.
“Like droplets on the grass,” is the East Wind that disperses seed and grows the vegetation.
Together, the sky, the earth and the four winds are witnesses for this song, part of the covenant between God and Israel. They are more than just witnesses; they are the ones that will be the instruments of God’s punishments or rewards to us. They will withhold rain, sustenance and the basics of life if we aren’t deserving. They will bless us with bounty, health and sustenance if we’re deserving.
May we always be on the side of blessings.
Gmar Chatima Tova and Shabbat Shalom,
To Encompass Health Rehab and their dedicated staff for taking such great care of my dad, Shlomo Eliezer ben Yetta.