On the Wings of Eagles!

(Torah Portion Ha’azinu) On the Wings of Eagles!

Our leader Moshe, in the poetic portion of Ha’azinu states; “Like an eagle arousing his nest, hovering over its young, He spreads His wings and took them (the Jews), carrying them on His pinions.”

The great commentator Rashi based on various Medrashim, explains the verse as follows: An eagle doesn’t swoop down on its nest, rather, it first flaps its wings and rustles the leaves to awaken its young in order not to startle them. Similarly, when G-d took the Jewish nation out of Egypt, He did it in a gentle manner – they were transported on the wings of eagles. Also, when G-d revealed Himself at Mount Sinai to give us the Torah, He revealed Himself in a gentle manner similar to the way an eagle awakens it young.

Rashi adds: All birds carry their young with their feet or talons because they are afraid of the eagle which flies higher and may snatch their young if they were on their wings. But the eagle since it flies higher than all birds, carries its young on its wings and it is only worried about the hunter’s arrow. The eagle would rather be pierced by the arrow than have its young be killed.

Moshe, describing G-d’s protection over the Jews when they left Egypt, compared it to the eagle. When the Egyptians were closing in on the Jews before the waters of the Red sea split, G-d placed an angel and a spiritual cloud between the Jews and the Egyptians to protect them. Besides confusing the Egyptians, it also absorbed all the arrows and spears that the Egyptians shot at G-d’s children, the Jewish nation. G-d, so to speak, said, “Let the spears and other ammunition of the Egyptians enter ‘Me’ – rather than My children.

Something similar occurred at Mount Sinai when G-d Revealed Himself to His nation. Although the nation was intensely prepared for the event, a sudden Revelation of G-d would have been too overwhelming for them. G-d therefore approached and appeared to them in an embracing and gentle manner similar to an eagle fluttering its wings to tenderly awaken its young. Moshe thus conveyed to us that one should always perceive our sacred Torah as it was originally given by G-d – with kindness, caring and tenderness.

Another lesson to learn from Moshe’s comparison of G-d to an eagle: Just as an eagle does not carry its young by picking them up by its feet rather it relies on the young to lift themselves up onto its wings, so too, Moshe’s message to us is that when we take the initiative and move forward and embrace G-d and His holy Torah, along with its message of goodness and kindness, we will be immediately uplifted and enabled to soar to great heights, with a renewed perspective and appreciation of what Torah is all about!

Wishing you a most enjoyable, and inspiring Shabbos! Rabbi Dovid Saks