The metaphor of the eagle in this week’s Torah portion reminds us that God is our Father and he looks out for our best interests.
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is Ha’azinu, (Deuteronomy 32:1–52), and it is a rather short reading that get us ready for the final Torah portion that is read on the holiday of Simchat Torah, when the entire Torah is concluded and the celebrations begin.
This week’s reading contains the famous verse: “He was like an eagle arousing its nest, hovering over its young, spreading its wings and taking them, carrying them on its wings.”
Our sages tell us that this verse, among many others in this week’s Torah portion, refers to the relationship between God and the Jewish people. The Talmud considers the eagle to be a giant bird. In fact, looking at a big eagle up close, one could suggest that it appears to be an animal rather than a bird. It is known to attack and devour animals three-to-five times its size. Have you ever noticed how an eagle always has the “don’t mess with me” look in its eyes?
When an eagle returns home to its nest, it doesn’t suddenly swoop down and land. It first hovers over the nest for awhile in order to give notice to its fragile babies that it has returned so they should not be scared.
As the eagle is king of the sky, so, too, God is the king in heaven. And our relationship with God is very similar to an eagle’s relationship with its children. Just as the eagle has an unconditional love and concern for its children, God is the Father that loves us, His children. It is also noted that just as the eagle “carries its young on its back so that the hunter’s arrow would pierce it and not its children, so it was when God “positioned Himself” between the Jews and the Egyptians at the Red Sea so that He could absorb the arrows of the Egyptians and none would fall upon the Jews.
I would suggest that there is an especially auspicious and relevant application of this teaching. We have just come out of Yom Kippur, not to mention a 40-day period of repentance and introspection. We believe that on Yom Kippur, the coming year is decided and “sealed.” Who knows what the future has in store for us? Who even knows what next week has in store for us? Will we be hit by a car, God forbid? Will we win the lotto? Is God pleased with us? Is God angry with us? We just don’t know. As such, many have a sense of nervousness, even trepidation, at the departure of Yom Kippur and the days following.
Nothing to Worry About!
But perhaps this week’s Torah portion comes to reassure us that everything is going to be just fine. The metaphor of the eagle reminds us that God is our Father and he looks out for our best interests. If you did your best to make amends and take an accounting of your deeds, and if you are determined to become a better person — you have nothing to worry about! There is nothing more that God wants you to do, nor is there anything more that you could do.
So drop the post-Yom Kippur depression! God has great things in store for you this year. And if you ever need a reminder or some inspiration, look up in the sky and see if you can spot the eagles.
May we all be sealed in the book of life for a wonderful year!
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