שחת לו לא בניו מומם, “Is corruption His? No, the blemish is His children’s” (Devarim 32:5).
Surely this poem is a very serious rebuke not only to parents but to children and to the entire Jewish community as well. The Or Hachaim underscores that when corruption prevails, tragedy follows. It is typical for a person to seek someone to blame. Hashem is always the first scapegoat; parents, teachers, and peers follow as common excuses for our misdeeds.
This precedent begins by stating, האזינו השמים...ותשמע הארץ, “Give ear, O heavens...let the earth hear” (32:1). This opening sentence is very telling and sharp. The Torah tells us listen, hear, and hearken on whichever level you are able. But do not forget: all corrupt deeds are yours, and you will pay for each of them.
No clearer lesson can be given to us before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Whose fault is it, anyway? The answer should be, “It is my fault and I will pay for my deeds,” but instead we blame Hashem, parents, teachers, or friends. These are all just excuses.
We live in a very exciting and lively era. It is full of opportunities and gifts from Hashem. We live in the golden era of Torah with, Baruch Hashem, great economic prosperity. The opportunities of travel, education, and pleasure are incredible. When the elements of Torah-ethics and Torah-Hashkafa are inserted into each of those opportunities, the result is Beracha.
Great numbers of students at Yeshiva high schools spent the summer in Kollel in Israel and almost every graduate goes to Israel to learn for at least one year. The opportunities for Torah, Chessed, and scholarship fill the four cubits of our great Yeshiva system.
The only question is האזינו, are we listening to Hashem’s call? If we are, then surely our blessings will be great in the upcoming year. If we do not listen then it is our own fault. We must realize that we face serious challenges of abuse. Be it alcohol, drugs, gambling, or violence, be it adult or adolescence, we must face up to our responsibility.
On Rosh Hashana we have the option of facing Hashem as בנים, children who listen, or עבדים, slaves to our addiction and temptation.
Let us listen. Let us keep Hashem’s Torah. I pray that we will have a happy and healthy new year.