Ha’azinu: Do We Hear What’s in the Balance? ~ Tzvi Abrahams

Parshas הַאַזִינוּ

Do We Hear What’s in the Balance?

אָזֶן : ear

מֹאזְנַיִם : scales

אִזוּן : balance

 הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי פִי
Give ear, the Heavens, and I will speak; hear, Earth, the sayings of my mouth.

אָזֶן : ear

The above pasuk gives two forms of hearing: לְהַאַזִין/to give ear and לְהַשְׁמִיעַ/to hear. To give ear is more than just hearing, it means to listen to what is being said — to give ear. Many times we hear things, yet the sounds and words do not penetrate.

The commentaries note the difference in language between the Heavens giving ear and the Earth hearing, and also the differences in language of אֲדַבְּרָה/speaking in connection to the heavens, and אַמִירָה/saying in connection to the Earth. In general, when the Torah uses the form of אַמִירָה/saying, it is a softer form of speaking, as opposed to the use of דִיבּוּר/speaking, which is a harsher way of speaking.

These two forms of hearing are very prevalent in the male/female relationship. Invariably, the man, who has a one-track mind, may hear things, but if he is in the middle of something else, he will not have the ability to pay attention to anything else. The woman, on the other hand, who is a multitasker, will hear everything her husband is saying to someone else, even while she is on the telephone on the opposite side of the room!  

This accounts nicely to the correlation in the pasuk between Heaven and Earth, which are male and female respectively. שָּׁמַיִם, which is male, needs to be told to give ear, and is spoken to in the stronger language of דִיבּוּר, whereas for אֶרֶץ, being female, it is enough just to hear without needing to give ear, and is therefore spoken to in the softer form of אַמִירָה/saying.

שָּׁמַיִם has the male aspect of giving, in that they give גֶשֶׁם/rain, whereas אֶרֶץ has the female aspect of receiving, in that it takes the rain to produce fruits. The commentaries explain that the heavenly water that replenishes the Earth is connected to the life-nourishing waters of the Torah, that if the Jewish People are successful in fulfilling their purpose of drawing down Hashem’s Torah into the world, then automatically there will be success in drawing down the water from Heaven. If, however, we fail to give ear to Hashem’s directives, then the heavens will be blocked, the Earth will dry up, and we will be banished from the land. Heaven and Earth are Hashem’s witnesses in that if we do not keep the covenant, they will be the first to exact retribution. As we approach the festival of Succos, the time of drawing water, when the world is judged for rain, all rests on our worthiness, whether we have been attentive in giving ear to Hashem’s Torah. 

מֹאזְנַיִם: Scales

It is no wonder that the astrological sign for the month of Tishrei is the מֹאזְנַיִם, symbolizing the scales of justice. The Rambam describes how we need to perceive ourselves on Rosh Hashanah as evenly balanced, whereby one more mitzvah or one more aveirah would be enough to tip the scales. Not only are our own scales finely balanced, but the scales of the whole world are, to the point where a single mitzvah or aveirah is so significant that the fate of the whole world rests on our shoulders.

אִזוּן: Balance

We are all looking for balance in our lives. אִזוּן /balance shares the same root as אוֹזֶן/ear. It is no coincidence that the faculty of balance is found in the ear. Hashem has designed it in such a way in order to hint to us that the way to achieve balance is through the ears, through the listening ear. The banner of the Jew is שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’ אֶ-לֹהֵנוּ ה’ אֶחָד. By listening to the Torah and paying attention to Hashem’s directives, we will be led to the awareness that Hashem is always opposite us, and this will prevent us from losing our sense of balance.  

שִׁוִיתִי ה’ לְנֶגְדִי תָּמִיד – זֶה כְּלַל גָדוֹל בְּתּוֹרָה
I will place Hashem opposite me always — this is a great principle in the Torah.

The root of the wordשִׁוִיתִי  comes from lashon שָׁוֶה, which means “equal.” This now gives us a deeper perspective on the meaning of שִׁוִיתִי ה’ לְנֶגְדִי תָּמִיד. It really means: I will equate Hashem opposite me always. To be equal with Hashem means to place Hashem on the opposite side of the scales. This gives us stability, so that when things in life come flying our way that have the potential to knock us off balance, we will maintain our state of equilibrium knowing that it is all coming from Hashem.

קוֹל דְמְמָה דַקָה יִשָׁמַע — A fine silent voice will be heard.

So in order to place Hashem opposite me, I need to know where he is.

The height of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur service is the וּנְתַנֶה תֹּקֶף prayer in the Mussaf service, which relates how we are led, one by one, like sheep to judgment. The great shofar is blown and then קוֹל דְמְמָה דַקָה יִשָׁמַע/Hashem is heard in the still, silent voice. Only when we stop and stand still are we able to hear the voice of Hashem speaking to us from within the silence.

אָזְנַיִם לְתּוֹרָה — Handles for the Torah

In the beginning, the Torah was similar to a vessel without handles, meaning that it was difficult to grasp, until Shlomo HaMelech came along and through the wisdom of his many parables we were able to have a better understanding of the Torah and we were able to get a handle on it. No wonder the ears are similar in shape to handles on a vase.

The same Gemara brings the pasuk in Koheles:
וְיֹתֵר שֶׁהָיָה קֹהֶלֶת חָכָם עוֹד לִמַּד דַּעַת אֶת הָעָם וְאִזֵּן וְחִקֵּר תִּקֵּן מְשָׁלִים הַרְבֵּה/and furthermore Koheles was wise, and taught knowledge to the people with balance and understanding connecting them through many parables. One interpretation of the word אִזֵּן is “balance,” that through learning and listening to the wisdom of Torah, we acquire balance.

הַשָׁמַיִם מְסַפְּרִים כְּבוֹד אֵ-ל/the heavens relate the glory of Hashem.

The Rambam says that one of the ways to come to know Hashem is through marvelling at the wonders of Hashem’s creation. In the above quoted pasuk from Tehillim, David HaMelech describes how Hashem, the Conductor, orchestrates the movements of all the heavenly bodies in such intricate order and harmony that if one stops to give ear, one cannot fail to hear the heavens declaring Hashem’s glory, as it says, הַשָׁמַיִם מְסַפְּרִים כְּבוֹד אֵ-ל.

In Designer World, Rabbi Katz writes that if your great-great-great-grandfather were to come and pay you a visit, he would be amazed at all the modern technology — the ability of the fridge and freezer to keep things fresh for months, how a microwave can heat up meals in minutes, how, at the flick of a switch, there can be central heating and air-conditioning, etc. In describing the radio, he would hardly believe that a little box could have the power to speak. He would marvel at how transmitters send out invisible signals though the air over thousands of miles, which are then picked up by the radio that converts them into sound. Rabbi Katz then goes on to describe the amazing mechanism of the ear — how it is shaped and designed in such a way to be able to receive sound waves that reverberate against the eardrum and that convert what it hears into electrical signals that are forwarded to the brain. 

Rabbi Katz’s message is that just like the radio did not just come into existence but rather had a designer, so too there is a designer behind the ear, and, for that matter, a designer of the whole human body and the whole universe. Only a fool who needs to take G-d out of the picture and deny that there is a Conductor would come up with the ridiculous notion that things just came into being!

אֹזֶן שֹׁמַעַת וְעַיִן רֹאָה ה’ עָשָׂה גַם שְׁנֵיהֶם/the listening ear and the seeing eye, Hashem made both of them.

Not only did Hashem give us an ear to hear and an eye to see, He gave us two of them, one on each side of the head. Just like a measuring scale has two hands in order to weigh things one against the other, so too Hashem has given us two ears to listen and weigh things. If we give ear and pay attention to them properly, then we should achieve the desired effect that they were designed for, i.e., a life of balance.

1 Devarim 32:1.

2 Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 3:1. See also Kiddushin 40b.

3 Eruvin 21b.

4 Koheles 12:9.

5 Tehillim 19:2.

6 Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 2:2.

7 Mishlei 20:12.




Vayelech: The Good, The Bad, & The Beautiful ~ Tzvi Abrahams

Parshas וַיֵלֶך

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

רָעָה: evil, bad

רוֹעֶה: shepherd

מַרְעֶה: pasture

תְּרוּעָה: teruah, sound of the shofar

רֵעַ: friend, companion

רַעְיוֹן: idea

הָרִיעוּ לַה’: singing to Hashem, calling out to Hashem

רָעָה

וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עַל כָּל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה כִּי פָנָה אֶל אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים
And I will surely hide my face on that day on all the evil that was done in turning to other gods.

What is the definition of evil? Turning our backs on Hashem and serving other gods.

When we abandon the רוֹעֶה/shepherd, we do רָע/evil in the eyes of Hashem. רָע is a life without G-d. Instead of allowing ourselves to be directed like sheep, we desire to be like the shepherd and be in charge of our own life, a life where I know best, where I am the director, where everything that happens is up to me. This is the serving of false gods, i.e., ourselves, which is evil in the eyes of Hashem.

Instead of worshipping the shepherd, Egypt worshipped the sheep. The sheep was one of their gods, and for this reason they despised the עִבְרִים/Hebrews who were a nation led by shepherds, the seven shepherds Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, and David. Man must recognize his place in the world and recognize who is the sheep and who is the shepherd.

רוֹעֶה: Shepherd

אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים
I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me the shepherd of roses.

מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד ה’ רֹעִי לֹא אֶחְסָר בִּנְאוֹת דֶּשֶׁא יַרְבִּיצֵנִי עַל מֵי מְנֻחוֹת יְנַהֲלֵנִי
A Psalm of David: Hashem is my Shepherd, I will not lack; in pleasant fields He will lay me down, by calm waters he will lead me.

The children of Israel are often compared to sheep who are guided by the loving hand of Hashem, their Shepherd.

A רוֹעֶה/shepherd looks after the flock to make sure they come to no רָע/harm.

There is a wonderful children’s storybook about Dasi the sheep whose friends try to flee from the restrictive life under the shepherd. They want to be free, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. They run away and are attacked by wolves. Without the רוֹעֶה/shepherd, one is open to רָע/harm.

מַרְעֶה: Pasture

To turn one’s back on the רוֹעֶה/shepherd is inherently רָע/evil in the eyes of Hashem. Hashem gave us Eretz Yisrael with beautiful מַרְעֶה/pastures to graze on, however we became fat and rejected G-d, as it says: וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט שָׁמַנְתָּ עָבִיתָ כָּשִׂיתָ וַיִּטֹּשׁ אֱ-לוֹהַ.

Eretz Yisrael is the land of the Shepherd, the land of Hashem. As long as the sheep listen to the sound of the Shepherd the land will produce, but if the sheep abandon the Shepherd, then Hashem hides himself and in turn the land rejects its nature to produce, the pastures/מַרְעֶה dry up, and the nation starves. There is no longer any Divine protection. The wolves are sent in to devour the sheep. The song of הַאַזִינוּ testifies to what will be:

וְאָעִידָה בָּם אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ…. וְקָרָאת אֶתְכֶם הָרָעָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים
And I will testify in them, the Heaven and the Earth…and it will happen to you the evil in the end of days, where the purpose of all the רָעוֹת/evils that will befall the Jewish Nation is in order to cause us to return to the Shepherd and to realize that our very survival is inherent on His protection and guidance. 

תְּרוּעָה / קוֹל הַשׁוֹפָר: Teruah, the Sound of the Shofar

אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם יוֹדְעֵי תְרוּעָה/Happy are the people who know the teruah, who know how to connect to Hashem.

The shofar is sounded when we move camps, to gather us together, to announce that the King is coming (as on Har Sinai), and to accompany the daily tamid sacrifices.

The sound of the תְּרוּעָה in war is to confound the enemy, causing him to disperse, and has the power to break down walls (e.g., the walls of Yericho).

The תְּרוּעָה therefore has the duality to gather together and to disperse.

תְּקַע בְּשֹׁפָר גָדוֹל לְחֵרוּתֵינוּ/on that great day, Hashem will gather us in and confound our enemies — good for one and bad for the other. Sharp, piercing sounds can really shatter and confound someone, even though the person who blows it is not troubled.

When a shepherd wants to gather in his flock, he can use sounds and whistles. When a shepherd herds together, it is a time of רֵיעוּת/connection, which is לָשׁוֹן חִיבָּה/a closeness in coming together. But if, chas v’shalom, we choose to disband, to walk away and turn our back on the Shepherd, it will be bad for us — we will be open to attack from the seventy wolves. We will lose our protection, as the pasuk says:  רָעוֹת רַבּוֹת וְצָרוֹת/troubled times will befall us.

As a nation, the goal of the shofar blast is to disperse our enemies and gather us in. On an individual level, the goal of the shofar is to wake us up and shatter our קְלִיפּוֹת/blockages and cause them to flee. When we see that we can overcome our enemies, then we can come forward without fear and be gathered in (because fear is one of our blockages).

רֵעַ: Friend, Companion

In the verse quoted above, אַשְׁרֵי הָעָם יוֹדְעֵי תְרוּעָה, תְּרוּעָה means the ones who know how to connect to and be bonded with Hashem. תְּרוּעָה, as we have seen, is the sound of the shepherd calling us through the shofar, which has the power to break down walls and connect us to our source.

רֵעַ/friend is therefore someone whom we are connected to and whom we feel closer to.

וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵיעַךָ כְּמוֹךָ/and you shall love your friend like yourself. A man’s wife is called רֵיעוּתוֹ/his friend, the one whom he is most connected to, to the point where the mitzvah of וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵיעַךָ כְּמוֹךָ is best fulfilled through loving one’s wife, to the point they are called רֵעִים אַהוּבִים/beloved companions.

וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵיעַךָ כְּמוֹךָ אַנִי ה’
To accept with love our רָע/problems and to recognize that they all come from Hashem with love. This is the meaning of יִסוּרִין מֵאַהַבָה, where our problems do not come about because Hashem hates us or wants to punish us, but rather from His love, as a father acts towards his son.

רַעְיוֹן: Idea

One of the reasons our forefathers were shepherds was in order to draw closer to Hashem through being alone in the fields, away from society, which enhanced contemplation. קוֹל דְמָמָה דַקָה/Hashem is heard in the silence, and when our minds are connected to a higher place (to the רוֹעֶה), we are able to receive his רַעְיוֹנוֹת/ideas. 

הָרִיעוּ לַה’: Singing to Hashem, Calling Out to Hashem

לְכוּ נְרַנְּנָה לַה’ נָרִיעָה לְצוּר יִשְׁעֵנוּ.

Come let us sing to Hashem, let us call out to the Rock of our salvation.

If, chas v’shalom, we distance ourselves from Hashem and we find ourselves in a pit, how do we get out? We have to call out to Hashem, to the Shepherd, to come, save us, and gather us in, like kittens crying out for their mother, “Here I am — please help me!” So too when a baby calls out, it wants its mother to come. If we don’t call out, though, no one is going to come. Hashem is looking to us to see if we want Him. What will it take for us to get to the point when we can cry out to Hashem and say הִנֵנִי/here I am? 

As children it was easy to cry; we were more in tune with our emotions. As time passed, with our growth into adults, we built walls and barriers to stop us from getting hurt, and so we distanced ourselves from our emotions. We forgot how to cry.

Just like a mother whose baby’s cries become unbearable to the point where nothing can stop her from coming close to comfort her child, so too Hashem cannot bear to hear our cries and do nothing. Crying is the language of the soul.

The job of the תְּרוּעָה is to break down our walls and make us into a שֶׁבֶר כְּלִי/a broken vessel where we are able to break through to the point of הִנֵנִי, of crying out and saying “here I am!”

On the other hand, when we sin and become unaware of Hashem, then Hashem says to us, like he said to Adam, “אַיֶכָּה/where are you?”

Elul, when this parshah is normally read, is the special time of year that Hashem gives us to return from being lost from the place of אַיֶכָּה/where are you, to the place of הִנֵנִי/here I am.

Hashem is now gathering us in, because soon there will be nowhere else to go. Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head again; the wolves are closing in. 

One of the main wolves at Hashem’s disposal is יִשְׁמָעֵאֵל /Yishmael, which literally means “Hashem will hear,” and is called so because at the end of days, they will be the nation that will get us to the point where we cry out to Hashem, to get us to the point whereאֶלָא עַל מִי לָנוּ לְהִשְׁעֹן עַל אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָׁמַיִם /we have no one to lean on except our Father in Heaven, and just like in Egypt Hashem answered our cries, מִן הַמֵצָר קָרָאתִי יָ-הּ, so too Hashem will answer our cries in the future.

זִבְחֵי תְרוּעָה/ Lambs to the Slaughter

Hashem doesn’t create evil, He only created the potential for evil. We have the choice to turn our backs on Hashem. The bad that returns upon us is not bad, it is really for our good. The analogy of lambs being led to the slaughter is therefore not bad. The wolves brought them back to Hashem (just like Amalek) and they returned to Hashem with the words שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל on their lips. The Nazis were therefore just instruments in the hands of Hashem.

While Yishmael was still young, the angels told Hashem to kill him now. But Yishmael, like Hitler and Pharaoh, were all puppets in the hand of Hashem in order to cause us to cry out שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל, to recognize that ה’ הוּא אֶ-לֹהִים/Hashem is G-d, and that אֵין אֶלֹהִים אַחֵרִים/there are no other gods.

But what about the tzaddikim in the Holocaust? What did they do wrong that they had to die?
If the only way to save your brother was to give him your kidney, would you not save him?! So too here — if the only solution, the “final solution,” to get our brothers to return was through a Holocaust, then would we not give up our lives in order to save them? 

And why in such a way, with death camps, as lambs to the slaughter? Why didn’t they fight back? Because Hashem stripped away their self-esteem — through prisoner clothing and shaved hair — only then could they reach the פְּנִימִיוֹת/the inner world of the pintele yid

Like sheep being led to the slaughter, which is our purpose — to be צֹאן קָדָשִׁים/holy sheep, to sacrifice our will and our lives to the רוֹעֶה/Shepherd (where “will” in Aramaic is רַעַוָא), to מְבַטֵל /nullify ourselves and to offer ourselves up on the מִזְבֵּחַ ה’/altar of Hashem.

“Lambs to the slaughter” was the accolade given to Rabi Akiva and his friends. It was Rabi Akiva who willingly went from this temporal life to eternal life with the words Shema Yisrael on his lips. This is the acclaimed accolade of being a קָרְבַּן עוֹלָה תְּמִימָה/a perfected sheep, where we have elevated ourselves to be free of blemish and can now be drawn close to Hashem.

This is the good, this is the bad, and this is the beautiful. This is the beauty of Hashem’s creation — that everything is measured out precisely in order for us to recognize that we are the sheep and Hashem is the Shepherd.

כְּצֹאן קָדָשִׁים כְּצֹאן יְרוּשָׁלִַם בְּמוֹעֲדֶיהָ כֵּן תִּהְיֶינָה הֶעָרִים הֶחֳרֵבוֹת מְלֵאוֹת צֹאן אָדָם וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי ה’
Like holy sheep, like sheep of Yerushalayim in its time, so will the destroyed cities be filled with sheep-men, and they shall know that I am Hashem.

In conclusion, the sound of the תְּרוּעָה is to blast down the walls, to extricate the רָע/bad that blocks us from seeing the רוֹעֶה/Shepherd and from hearing Him in the קוֹל דְמָמָה דַקָה/silence. When we break through, we are reunited in רֵעוּת/companionship, the cries of heartache turn to cries of joy, and we are now ready for Succos.

1 Devarim 31:18.

2 Shir HaShirim 6:3.

3 Tehillim 23:1.

4 Gadi Pollack, A Tale of Seven Sheep (New York: Feldheim Publishers).

5 Devarim 32:15.

6 Ibid., 31:28.

7 Tehillim 89:16.

8 Metzudas David to Tehillim ibid.

9 Devarim 31:17.

10 Vayikra 19:18.

11 Sheva Brachos.

12 Likkutei Moharan, 1:165.

13 Tehillim 95:1.

14 See Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 5:4.

15 Yechezkel 36:38.




Nitzavim: Sweetening The Din ~ Tzvi Abrahams

Parshas נְצָבִים

Sweetening the Din

עֶרֶב: evening

מַעַרַב: west,

מַעַרִב: evening prayers

עַרָבָה: desert

עַרָבוֹת: willow branch

עַרַב: Arab

עֹרֵב:raven

תַּעַרוֹבוֹת: mixture

עֹרִֵב: sweet, pleasant, harmonious

עִרְבּוּב: confusion

עֵרֻב: eiruv (for Shabbos)

עַרָבוֹת: Seventh Heaven

עוֹרֵב: guarantor, as in  כָּל יִשְׁרָאֵל עַרֵבִים זֶה לְזֶה

כָּל יִשְׁרָאֵל עַרֵבִים זֶה לְזֶה/We Are All Responsible for Each Other

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת לַה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת
The hidden things are to Hashem, whereas the revealed things are for us and our children forever to uphold the Torah. 

Rashi on this verse says: וְנַעַשׂוּ עַרֵבִים זֶה לְזֶה/we are all responsible for each other to ensure that we all live in a Torah society, and if anyone publicly breaks the rules and we do nothing about it, then we will be held accountable.

If we were attacked by wild Indians from all directions, we would watch each other’s backs — not just because we care about each other’s safety, but, more realistically, because we need each other, since each of us without help would certainly have our skullcaps scalped! So too with any breach in the fence of the Torah — if left unattended, it is in danger of spreading. 

כָּל יִשְׁרָאֵל עַרֵבִים זֶה לְזֶה is the reality that we are all playing for the same team, where each position is vital in order for there to be success. All Bnei Yisrael, from all the generations, are collectively one body, one person, and if G-d forbid one cell becomes cancerous, without immediate attention it could quickly spread.

Now let’s explore the root of this word ערב.

עֶרֶב: Evening

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד/it was evening and it was morning, one day. בֹּקֶר comes from the word לְבַקֵר/to examine, because with the morning light one can easily distinguish between things. עֶרֶב is the opposite; it is a time when things become less distinct, when the light merges into the darkness and things become less clear. Statistically, this is the time of day when there are more road accidents. עֶרֶב in this respect is a mixture, something in between, something less defined.

מַעַרַב/west is the direction from which the evening comes, מִי עֶרֶב/from the west, and מַעַרִיב/maariv is evening prayers.

עַרָבָה: Desert, Plains, Empty

The Aravah is the desert plains, not the mountains or the valleys, but something in between.

עַרָבוֹת: Willow Branch

The willow branch, one of the arba minim that we shake together with the lulav and esrog, symbolizes the resha’im, because, unlike the esrog, the עַרָבָה has no taste or smell, corresponding to those who have no Torah learning or good deeds. So just like the Aravah of the desert plains is empty, so too the Jew who is compared to the עַרָבוֹת is consideredempty.

עַרַב: Arab

The Arabs are the people of Arabia, the Aravah, the people of the desert.

In describing Yishmael, the Torah says that he will be a wild man and that his hand will be in everything and everyone’s hand will be in his. He is a wild man who lives in the deserts, like bandits whose philosophy is “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours,” everything mixed together. They are a nation with no boundaries. Arabia was one big land mass, which only in recent times, with the turn of the last century, was cut up into many individual states by England and France. The Targum Yonasan on the above pasuk uses the word יִתְעַרְבֻּב/mixed up to describe the Arab’s nature of having his hand in everything and mixing everything up.

Before the Torah was given to the Bnei Yisrael, the Midrash says it was first offered to all the other nations. The Yishmaelim, once they heard that the Torah contained the commandment not to steal, were unable to accept it because stealing is the very essence of who they are.

In connection with this middah of “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours,” the Gemara in Kiddushin says that ten measures of promiscuity were given to the world, of which nine measures נָטְלָה עַרַבִיָא/were taken by the Arabs. (This is probably why their women need to be covered from head to toe.) The promiscuous nature of the Arab is born out of the same middah of stealing, of having no bounds, “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine,” which comes to include other people’s wives and daughters.

עֹרֵב:Raven

The Gemara brings the concept of בָּשָׁר שֶׁנִתְעַלֶם מִן הַעַיִן/meat that has been hidden from view, i.e., left unattended, is forbidden, since there is a remote possibility that ravens could have switched the piece of meat for another. Even if the majority of the meat in the town is kosher, it is still forbidden because the raven’s ability to fly messes up the statistics and mixes everything up. In Parshas Noach, the raven is called a rasha, and just like the Arab, the raven’s very nature is to steal and mix things up.

תּעַרוֹבוֹת: Mixture

Some mixtures are good, like a mixture of voices producing a beautiful harmony, which in Hebrew is called קוֹל עוֹרֵב/a sweet, pleasant sound. Some mixtures are bad, like when things get messed up, which is called in Hebrew עִרְבּוּב.

A single instrument, a lonesome voice, even a single note, is nothing compared to the sweet sound of a chord, the harmony of a choir, or the vibrancy of a whole orchestra. The exception to the rule, of course, is a single-malt whiskey when compared to a blended whiskey! Harmony, therefore, is when we are playing for the same team, as opposed to disharmony, which is when we play out of tune. 

עֵרֻב: Eiruv (on Shabbos)

An eiruv is used to create a mixing together of domains so that one can carry from one domain to another.

עַרָבוֹת: Seventh Heaven

The concept of Seventh Heaven really exists and is a Jewish concept.
Hashem created seven heavens of which the highest one is called עַרָבוֹת, because it is cherished and honored, and anything that is honored is considered עוֹרֵב/sweet and pleasant.
 
It is so cherished and honored because Hashem chooses to ride His chariot in the Seventh Heaven.
So the literal sense of being in Seventh Heaven, the highest of highs, is that of one riding high with Hashem.

Another reason why it called עַרָבוֹת is because from the עַרָבוֹת Hashem manages the world with a mixture of judgment and mercy. For this reason it is עֹרֵב/sweet because there is a balance, there is harmony. This harmony is reflected in the home, with the separate roles of the mother and father coming together to give a balanced upbringing to their children. The mother is the one who is more merciful, since she incubated the children in her womb for such a long time and naturally tends to be more merciful, being that רַחַמִים comes from the רֶחֶם/womb. The father provides the balance by being more דִין/strict.

עוֹרֵב: Guarantor  

The concept of an עוֹרֵב/guarantor is to bind together the lender and the borrower. Sometimes, without an עוֹרֵב there is no loan. So just like if the borrower fails to pay the loan the guarantor steps in, so too the concept of כָּל יִשְׁרָאֵל עַרֵבִים זֶה לְזֶה/all of Israel are responsible for each other, in that if someone messes up, we must step in and restore the balance.

In conclusion there are good mixtures and bad mixtures, harmony and disharmony. When one mixes up something too much, it loses its taste and smell. This is the רָשָׁע, who is compared to the עַרָבָה/willow. On the other hand, the one who spices up his life with the Torah keeps his taste and smell (the Torah being the תַּבְלִין/spice that cures the yetzer hara).

The עַרָבָה of the desert, translated as מִישׁוּר/plateau, it is neither high nor low, and one might think this is good, with מִישׁוּר being lashon יָשָׁר/straight. But the worst kind of Jew, in terms of being able to change, is the one in the middle, the one who is neither black nor white. He mixes everything up, he himself is mixed up, and being unable to distinguish, he has been entrapped by the yetzer hara whose job is to mix everything up. He has reached a plateau and considers his position just right, without the need to climb higher; indeed those who are higher than him he considers extremists, while those below him are ignoramuses. 

It’s much easier to be a baal teshuvah, having come from a dark place, where the contrasting light is much more apparent. When one is in the middle, though, and in a state of עֶרֶב, it is much harder to distinguish between night and day and day and night.

As we approach the Day of Din/Judgment, we hope there will be teshuvah,
like it says in Zechariah: וְהָיָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב יִהִיֶה אוֹר/as evening approaches there will be light,
and like it says in Yeshayah: יְשֻׂשׂוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה וְתִפְרַח כַּחֲבַצָּלֶת/the arid desert will be joyous and the wilderness (עַרָבָה) will exalt and blossom like a rose.

וְהַעַרֶב נָא ה’ אֶ-לֹהֵנוּ/make it sweet Hashem our G-d, who rides in the עַרָבוֹת/Seventh Heaven (where He mixes din with rachamim), that You should sweeten our din with rachamim. This is the symbolism of honey, to sweeten the din, and is the real meaning when we wish people a sweet New Year.

1 Devarim 29:28.

2 Bereishis 1:5.

3 Kiddushin 49b.

4 Chullin 95a.

5 Chagigah 12b; Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 3:1; see also Melachim II 14:14, ואת בני התערובות, which the Targum translates as: וית בני רברביא.

6 Bamidbar Rabbah 3:8: ברא הרקיעים וברר לו אחד מהם זה ערובות שנאמר סלו לרכב בערובות (תהלים סח:ה)

7 Zecharyah 14:7.

8 Yeshayah 35:1.