For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!" (Deut. 32:1)

Peshat (basic meaning):

...he called upon heaven and earth as witnesses...that endure forever.

Rashi: "Listen, O heavens" that I am warning Israel and you shall be witnesses in this matter, for I have already told Israel that you will be witnesses. And so is [the clause] "And let the earth hear" [to be similarly understood]. Now why did [Moses] call upon heaven and earth to be witnesses [for warning Israel]? Moses said: "I am [just] flesh and blood. Tomorrow I will die. If Israel says, 'We never accepted the covenant', who will come and refute them?" Therefore, he called upon heaven and earth as witnesses for Israel — witnesses that endure forever. Furthermore, if they [Israel] act meritoriously, the witnesses will come and reward them: "The vine will give its fruit, the earth will yield its produce, and the heavens will give their dew". (Zech. 8:12) And if [Israel] acts sinfully, the hand of the witnesses will be upon them first [to inflict punishment upon them]: "And He will close off the heaven that there will be no rain, and the soil will not give its produce" (Deut. 11:17) and then [the verse continues]: "and you will perish quickly" — through [the attacks of] the nations.

Siftei Chachamim: "That you be witnesses to the matter"
The Song which follows consists of an admonishment to Israel. Why then does Moses begin by calling for the attention of the heavens and the earth? It is to summon them as witnesses to the warning which follows.

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim:The verse begins with the letter Hei and ends with the letter Yud because Moses included G‑d's name at the beginning of the song.

The verse has 7 words alluding to the verse, "She carved out is seven pillars" (Prov. 9:1) corresponding to the 7 heavens, the 7 lands, and the 7 days of the week.

"O Heavens and I will speak" has gematria 613. Moses is telling the nation "Give ear to the 613 mitzvot."

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Ramban: By way of Truth (i.e. Kabbalah), the reference here is to the first higher heavens and the earth mentioned in Genesis, for it is they that shall enter the covenant with Israel. Therefore Moses states that the heavens should give ear and listen to the conditions and how he will apply them. He states "my lesson shall drop as the rain" for that which he took from the heavens as the Written Torah and His commandment upon the earth as the Oral Torah, shall drop upon Israel and distill on them like dew. He is speaking to all Israel for it is they who are on earth. Also, the "stone" of Joshua hints to this earth, for "from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel". So, also "The stone which the builders rejected have become the chief cornerstone. This is G‑d's doing..." So Joshua said "Behold this stone shall be witness against us." And so also: "For behold the stone which I have laid before Joshua has 7 faces. The student learned in Kabbalah will understand.

Moses also calls upon the souls and bodies that will be resurrected in the future...

Tzeror Hamor: Moses had said (Ibid. 31:28) that he would call heaven and earth as witnesses, so now he had to put his intention in practice. By using the introductory words "Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear", Moses also calls upon the souls and bodies that will be resurrected in the future, all of whom are invited to tune into his song. Moses wished that the souls of the departed, especially those of the patriarchs, be present and listen to his words. He even wished for the souls that had not yet been assigned to bodies to be present now to hear what he had to say. The reason for Moses' demand was that the Torah conceals future events, events that would occur while these souls inhabit bodies on earth at that time.

Ohr HaChayim: Perhaps Moses addressed the 2 components man is made of: the spiritual and the physical. He called the spiritual heaven and the physical part earth. When Moses addressed the spiritual element within man, he calls out to it and says "listen you heavenly parts", the ones concealed inside man and therefore must make an effort to listen. He employs the tough "speak" so that the soul will accept the authority of its Creator and carry out its duty. With the physical part, Moses says "hear" to address the parts of man that consist of earth, he said, "words of my mouth" because the body being by nature far from the regions where abstract intelligence is in the majority, requires the soft-toned approach in order to be able to listen properly. After the separation of body and soul, when the body is no more than mere earth, "this earth" should still listen to the words coming from Moses' mouth.

Mei HaShiloach: Why does Moses say "Give ear to me O heavens; listen O earth" whereas Isaiah reverses this and says "Listen O heavens and Give ear to me O earth"? Both put heaven before earth but the key phrase Ha'azinu--give ear to me is addressed by Moses to heaven and by Isaiah to earth. Why?

Moses expressed the enlightened mind of the people and wanted to be heard by heaven which symbolizes the enlightened mind. He addressed the enlightened mind of our collective deeper consciousness through his last poem in the Torah. It is as if he began, "Give ear enlightened Mind of all people of the universe, I address you to awaken you, to lend you support and to fire your imagination."

Isaiah captured the spirit heart of the people and wanted to be heard by the earth which symbolizes the heart of femininity.

The heard constantly cries for relief from suffering which is so prevalent everywhere and is only comforted by the gentleness and healing which is the life purpose of Isaiah whose name means liberation.

It is as if Isaiah began his speech saying, "Listen to me healing heart, spirit of all people, healing heart of the universe. I address you to reach you to spur you to action and to soothe you."

Reciting the song of Ha'azinu purifies the mind and heart...

Lubavitcher Rebbe: Reciting the song of Ha'azinu:
* purifies the mind and heart, and can lead to longevity and success in business affairs.
* was recited by the Levites throughout the year and when the additional sacrifices for Shabbat were brought;
* is connected with the entire Torah, since the mitzvah of writing a complete Torah scroll is derived from "write for yourselves this song"
* is the last parasha of the Torah read on Shabbat, so it is effectively the "conclusion" of the Shabbat Torah reading cycle;
* at the literal level was said with the intention that "you will command your children to be careful to observe all the words of this Torah" and
* is the entire Chapter 32, Lammed-Beit in Hebrew. This alludes to the fact that Ha'azinu is connected to the whole Torah since the Torah begins with Beit and ends with Lammed.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Ha'azinu 297:
Come and see: the last generation that left Egypt knew everything because Moses revealed it to them all the forty years they were in the wilderness, as I said. We learned that Rabbi Yitzhak said, Even Moses revealed it only on the day he departed from the world, as written, "I am a hundred and twenty years old this day", on the very day. Hence he did not speak until he was given permission as written, "Now therefore write this song for yourselves". When he did reveal, he did not say 'Give ear, Israel', but, "Give ear, O heavens."

Rabbi Yosi said, It is written, "this song." Could it be called a song? Rabbi Yitzhak said, It is surely a song. As a song is drawn through the Holy Spirit from above downwards, these words also were drawn through the Holy Spirit from above downwards. This is why Moses spoke of a song.

Come and see: all that Moses has spoken and called to the high ones before he uttered a word, as written, "Give ear, O heavens." "My doctrine shall drop as the rain..." (Verse 2) Why all that? Because "I will call on the name of G‑d" (Verse 3) Before he said that, he caused all the worlds to tremble.

We learned that when Moses said, "Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak," the worlds shook. A voice resounded saying, "Moses, Moses, why are you shaking the whole world? You are human; shall the world shake because of you?" He opened and said, "I will call on the name of G‑d." At that moment they became silent and listened to his words.

...the Book of Deuteronomy emanated through his throat with the help of the Shechinah.

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
Moses our Teacher: Singer/Songwriter. Who'd have thought?

Yet our tradition tells us that the Book of Deuteronomy emanated through his throat with the help of the Shechinah. And that Psalms 90-100 were originated by him.

Makes sense, because our holiest words were apparently drawn from the highest sources.

A song is drawn with the Holy Spirit from above downwards. Much more than just a nice mix of lyrics and notes, a Holy song has the power to move people and to move mountains. For example, "A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes unto the mountains: from whence shall my help come?" (Psalm 121) is said for protection at night and on the way, and to help find one's destined soul-mate.

A melody can stir inside oneself an elevation that mere words cannot. Words can paint pictures and add texture to visions.

Together, the sky is the limit.

Which is why the Song of Songs written by King Solomon was considered to be the "Holy of Holies" according to Rabbi Akiva. No mere wedding song, the Sages prohibited its singing with liquor in drink fests.

We all know what a niggun can do for our spirits, how recitation of the Word can soar our soul. The Zohar emphasizes the power of this Song in our verse.

Hear in your inner ear: "Avinu Malkeinu" with its haunting melody can only help to bring us closer. Pledge to try to internalize the songs we will soon be singing to keep us in mindful connection as much as possible.

Copyright 2003 by, a project of Ascent of Safed (// All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.