Divrei Torah

PARSHAS HA'AZINU 5780

In the 1st aliya of this week’s Parsha, we read a Passuk, “Remember the days of old, understand the years of each and every generation. . . G-d sets the borders of nations according to the number of the Jewish people.” The Torah is instructing us that in order to move forward and progress, we must look at the past and remember how we got to where we are. We must understand history and learn its lessons. G-d’s plan for the world is focused upon the Jewish people. Events happen in far off places because they somehow will affect us. How? We don’t know nor may we ever know. But all world events have something to do with us. The Torah clearly states that when borders of countries shift, we are in that reckoning.

Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman stated that when the Treaty of Versailles was drawn up at the end of World War I and established new countries and borders, before it was drawn up here on earth, it was already drawn up in Heaven. The Allied nations were only implementing what G-d had already decreed.

We like to think that smaller details don’t make a difference. Who cares if Liberia or Congo are five miles smaller or larger? Whether or not a country declares its independence apparently has major ramifications for the Jewish people. Before World War I, would anybody have thought that the Ottoman Empire siding with Germany would make that big of a difference for the Jewish people? After the State of Israel was created from the British Mandate, who received the land from the Ottoman Empire, it became obvious that it was a big deal.

We read in Hallel, “the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.” Certain events might not make page one of the newspapers, but they become the “cornerstone” - major news stories. G-d apparently does not read the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine or Newsweek. The Torah teaches us that we must pay attention to small details in the world. G-d has a plan. As our good friend Larry Yellin likes to say, “Man proposes – and G-d disposes.”