The majority of the verses of Parshas Haazinu — six of the seven sections — is taken up with Moshe’s Song, known as the Song of Haazinu.1 The Levites used to sing this song on Shabbos in the Holy Temple.2 They would divide it into six sections, each section sung on a consecutive Shabbos, in the same manner that the song is divided for the Torah reading.3

Maimonides explains why the Song of Haazinu was divided in this fashion:4 “...For they are [words of] admonition, so that the people will repent.” Now the concepts of “admonition” and “song” are antithetical. How are we to understand a “song” of “admonition”?

The Song of Haazinu as a whole, even those parts that contain words of admonition, has one central theme: all the events that befall the Jewish people are ultimately for the good.5 Even those occurrences that seem to be the very antithesis of goodness serve the purpose of leading Jews closer to the ultimate Redemption. Indeed, all occurrences in the life of the Jewish people are steps and stages that lead in the direction of Redemption.

The portion of Haazinu isread most years on Shabbos Teshuvah,6 the Shabbos of Repentance, so called because it is the Shabbos that falls in the Ten Days of Repentance.

Accordingly, it is to be understood that Haazinu is not only connected to these days of penitence because it contains “words of admonition, so that the people will repent,” but because of the particular kind of Divine service and level of repentance that characterizes Shabbos Teshuvah.

The mode of repentance appropriate to weekdays is teshuvah tataah, “lower-level repentance,” while the mode of repentance appropriate to Shabbos is teshuvah ilaah, “higher-level repentance.”7 In general, the former involves repenting for the commission of actual sins, while the latter consists of the return and cleaving of man’s spirit to G‑d.8

Since during the six weekdays man is involved with elevating mundanity to holiness,9 man’s repentance as well centers on the rectification of actual sins — teshuvah tataah. On Shabbos, however, mundane labor is forbidden, and man’s spiritual service involves elevating himself from level to level within the realm of holiness.10 This is the task of teshuvah ilaah 11 strivingto come ever closer to G‑d.

These levels of repentance also differ in the manner in which they are performed: teshuvah tataah proceeds from a broken and contrite heart,12 while teshuvah ilaah is done with “great joy.”13

All this is to be found in the Song of Haazinu. On the one hand it includes “[words of] admonition, so that the people will repent,” and on the other hand it is called a “song,” an expression of joy, sung by the Levites in the Holy Temple.

The connection of the Song of Haazinu with teshuvah ilaah also accords with the basic content of the Torah portion. Moshe was commanded to write the Song of Haazinu “so that this song will serve Me as a witness for the Jews”14 — it served as testimony to the Torah and the commandments, enabling the Jews to fulfill them with vitality and unswerving allegiance.

Repentance, too, especially teshuvah ilaah, vitalizes the Jew and enables him to fulfill the Torah and its commandments with vitality and complete attachment to G‑d, so that his actions thereby become “good and luminous deeds.”15

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIV, pp. 145-146; Vol. XXIV, pp. 229-238.