Parashat Ha'azinu

The Times Are A-Changing

In his final poetic speech to the Israelites, Moshe encourages them to understand the potential for change in every generation.

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Thus on this "Shabbat of Returning" (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), we might understand Moses' poem as not only urging us to consider the mistakes of the past, and learn accordingly (which is hard enough), but also to consider that the past is not necessarily a prologue to the future. We are not doomed to repeat the errors of the past, either as individuals, communities, or nations--to me, Judaism is more optimistic than that. Consider the past, but don't feel that you're stuck in it; this is a central message of the holiday season.

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Rabbi Neal J. Loevinger

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. A former student at Kolel, he served as Kolel's Director of Outreach from late 1999-2001. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.