THE SONG OF HISTORY
“May my teaching drop like the rain.” (Devarim 32:2)
The song of Ha’azinu is Moses’ peroration to his people. The great medieval Spanish rabbi and leader, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (1194-1270) and other commentators see this song encompassing the whole process of Jewish history. How can a mere song summarise the history of our people that has gone through more dramatic moments than any other nation on earth? Rabbi Elie Munk (father of the late LadyAmelie Jakobovits) quotes the Tzror Hamor (by Rabbi Avraham Saba of Castile, fifteenth century) who sees in the verse two, ‘may my teaching drop like the rain’, an answer to this question.
From this verse to the end of the Song there are forty-two verses. This number has a profound significance in Jewish Mysticism. We are familiar with the names of G-d that are found in the bible, like the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of G-d) or E-l-o-h-i-m. The Talmud refers to a great Name of G-d comprising forty-two letters (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 71a). The forty-two verses to the end of the song allude to this name. Rabbi Munk explains that G-d has put his signature on this Song, as it were, and each verse documents one of the mysteries of His name. Therefore, it is on account of the mysteries contained in each verse that Moses speaks here of rain and dew. The drops of moisture are so tiny compared with the vast surfaces of fields and forests that they cover. Similarly, this Song is extremely short but contains the deepest secrets for the survival and existence of the world.