Haazinu – the essence of a sefer Torah
The Rambam states (Hilchos sefer Torah 7:1) that the essence of the obligation to write a sefer Torah is actually to write the Parsha of Haazinu but since the Torah is not to be written in a separate parshas therefore we must write the “whole Torah”. What is so special about Haazinu that is the essence of the “book of the Torah”? We are commanded to believe all of Torah is equally deep and Holy (Rambam 8th ikar of 13 ikarim), what makes Haazinu different?
What’s in a Book?
What is the book? What does the Sefer Yetzira mean when it says (1:1) “Hashem created His world with a book a book and a story”?
My Rebbe Maran HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shapira ZTL explained this passage as follows : a “book” is beyond ‘writings’, those are just ’pages’. A “book” is something that has a “plot” – a beginning, a middle, and an end. The world that Hashem created tells a story. The world is the greatest story book ever. It is the story of the revelation of the truth of Hashem is the one and only. This “Book” has a great ending: “on that day Hashem will be one and His Name will be one”.
The script and the reading
My Rebbe further explained: The world is following a script and that’s the first book, the script of destiny. Then there is the “telling of the story”. A script could sound like a totally different story depending who is reading the script and what emphasis and nuances he inserts in telling the story. That is where our free will comes in. Our choices at any given time are limited to the range that the Divine providence allows us to choose from. When we make choices were making our “nuances” within the story, without deviating from the script. The final “book” gets written reflecting the way we “tell the story”. A new chapter is completed every year.
Books of Tishrei
With this we could understand the idea that in the month of Tishrei we are “inscribed in books”. Hashem doesn’t need books to remember! These books are the “Books of Reality”. A chapter is written on Rosh Hashanah and the chapter is sealed i.e. closed to changes on Yom Kippur. Minor edits are possible but on Hoshana Rabbah is the final seal and no further editing is possible. Then on Shmini Atzeres it is handed down to publication.
Haazinu – The “Book”
The commentaries agree that the significance of Haazinu is that it is the story of destiny (see Daas Tevunos siman 34 Freidlander edition pg 11). It alludes to all the generations from the beginning of time until the end. The of the “song of Haazinu” ends off (Devarim 32:39) “See now that I am HE and there is no [other] power alongside me I put to death and bring to life I smite and I heal and no one can save you from me”! That is the end of the story of destiny when it’s revealed in course of time Hashem was, is, and will always be the one and only power doing everything. Haazinu is a “BOOK”! It is what constitutes a “SEFER Torah” -not just “Divrei Torah”. All of Torah is equally as Holy and deep, but Haazinu has the “book element” – the whole condensed storyline from the beginning of time till the end of time.
Succos Hoshana Rabba Shmini Atzeres
After reading Haazinu every year we go into the festival of Succos. Seforim write that the 7 days of Succos are a mini destiny of the seven millennia. 6000 years of this world and the 1000 years that the world is laid desolate. Shmini Atzeres is parallel to the eighth millennium when Hashem renews his world and in that new world there’s only one nation – the Jewish people. That’s why Shmini Atzeres is the “private party” between the Jewish people and Hashem as all the goyim who come to celebrate Succos in the future, represented by the 70 bulls sacrificed every year, have all “gone home” – Meaning gone out of reality with the closing of the world on in the seventh millennium which is represented by Hoshana Rabbah. On Hoshana Rabba we are finally saved and separated from the goyim forever. We will continue into the eternal future represented by Shmini Atzeres and they go into the oblivion of the past! This is the secret that on Shmini Atzeres is Simchas Torah – we complete the Torah with joy as Shmini Atzeres represents the eternal everlasting end of the story of life. What is life? “Hashem Looked into the Torah and created the world”!