Seize the Day; Seize the Year! – Parshat Haazinu

There are some phrases that are so out of place that they demand some kind of explanation. The veritable 'elephant in the room' is crying out to be noticed.

We find this at the end of this week's parsha, Parshat Haazinu. After Moshe's swan song, God calls to Moshe in the 'height of the day'.1 Dozens of times God calls to Moshe but never until this instance, almost the very end of the Torah, is the phrase 'the height of the day' used in this context. The great 16th century sage Kli Yakar explains that this phrase is used here to show that Moshe until his last day continued with his full strength and lived at the "height of the day". He knew that he would die on that day but that did not send him into depression or on a wild last day of lavish banquets and other physical pleasures. He continued to build the future of the people. He used his life to the fullest – until his last breath. Such an invigorating path he chose for his life. Carpe diem? Seize the day? It sounds more like 'Carpe vitae'! Seize the life!

Every year, Haazinu is read on a Shabbat near the beginning of the new year – either on the first or second Shabbat. Perhaps it can be a way of showing us how to view our lives.

Our lives are a gift. I realized that especially this year after my heart attack on Chanukah. Life cannot be taken for granted. It is here for us to live. Moshe showed us the way. Live every day at its 'height'. How high can the day get? You can decide that.

Sure there are times that can get you down. There are crises that we live through; unpleasant emergencies that arise. We cannot just 'snap out of it' as some well-meaning friends may tell us. But it will not keep us down forever. At some miraculous moment which is different for everyone an opportunity for a re-awakening presents itself. There are events, people, activities, and experiences which call us forward.2 We are challenged to open our eyes and see what is still waiting for us – even when life doesn’t seem to be shining upon us.

We decide how we will view the rest of our lives. It is in our ability to live at the "height of the day".

Carpe Vitae! Seize Your Life!

 Click here for another logoParsha article on Haazinu (Meaningless Occurrences)


  1. Devarim 32:48. The translation is based on the commentaries of Rashi and Rabbi Hirsch on this sentence
  2. Dr. Viktor Frankl speaks about this often in his writings on logotherapy


Have A Great Shabbat!laughing

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