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Awakening the Senses

Moses is about to die. He opens his famous last speech to the Israelite people with one word (32:1): Haazinu. This word means "give ear," and comes from the word for ear, ozen. Why does he use this word when the more familiar word for listen, Shema, might have been sufficient? 

I would suggest that it has something to do with the context. Now that God has shared with Moses and the Israelites that the end of an era is about to take place; Moses is about to die, and the people are about to enter the Promised Land. 

Moses has lived an embodied life. One where his senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing have been stimulated. And, it is all that he can do to encourage the people, after him, to experience God in these ways. He encourages their careful sensory awakening to God's presence in their lives in five ways:

Hearing: Listening with ears by using the term ha'azinu rather than the more common term shema (32:1). 

Smelling: God nourishes us like dew on young grass; fresh and clean (32:2) .

Seeing: Moses tells the people that God has watched them like the pupil of God's own eye (32:10). 

Touching: God grabbed up the people and carried them as an eagle does to its young (32:11). 

Tasting: God has fed the people honey from the stone (32:13), a sweet taste and continues with hearty milk, tasty meat, bread and fine wine (32:!4). 

Moses assures the people that God's presence can be felt in all of these ways. If only we awaken our senses to receive Divine presence. Ken Yehi Ratzon.

The above is a reflection by Rabbi Heather Miller on this week's Torah portion, Parashat Ha'azinu, Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52. Please visit to subscribe and follow on social media.

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