Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Could Heaven and Earth be kosher witnesses?

The witnesses are here to help us to believe.

Let’s first translate what Deuteronomy 32:1 really says. The Torah speaks of the sky and the ground level, not of Heaven and Earth. They are mentioned prominently already in Genesis 1, and I see no reason to modify that translation further down in Scripture.

The following verse, 32:2, talks of rain, dew, showers, and drops—falling from the sky to the ground. The basic meaning of these verses must be that Moses wants his speech to come down as life-giving as water. Still in the desert, poetically, he calls upon the sky to open up and the ground (people) to receive his words as if it’s quenching rain. On top of this, in 32:4, Moses speaks of G^d as rock-solid; rocks gave water too (Exodus 17:6, Numbers 20:11, Deuteronomy 8:15, Psalms 78:15, 105:41, and 114:8). Only in verse 32:5, Moses begins to admonish us.

Also, do the sky and earth have an ear? We must say that, just like the ground swallowed up Korach as if it had a mouth (Numbers 16:30, 32, 26:10, and Sayings of the Elders 5:6), the sky should hear Moses’ words as if it had an ear from which the rain can come down, and the ground should absorb his words as if it had an ear through which to absorb rain and dew.

The words of our Chief Commentator Rashi on Deuteronomy 32:1 are ingrained in our minds. He explains that the dying Moses calls upon the sky and the ground to act as witnesses because they’ll stay around after him. That is important, especially in the Ten Days of Repentance, when we read this. However, the basic meaning must be what I shared above.

Just 3 verses earlier, but in the previous Torah Portion, in verse 31:28, the Torah does name the sky and ground as witnesses. Yet, there we see they should testify for the Elders of your Tribes and your officials. Not against future generations! And, again, this must mean, basically, that the sky and ground testify to them, the sky in its immutability of the L^rd’s eternity, and the order at ground level (see the Creation Story) of the Creat^r.

Very prominently, just before, in verse 30:19, Moses does call up the sky and the ground as witnesses. But not really. It says: My witnesses are for you the sky and the ground: I gave you this life and this death, this blessing and this curse, and you are advised to choose life, so that you and your offspring may live. Again, these witnesses are to explain how we could believe in G^d. They are not to witness against anyone. The verse does say ‘today,’ which I believe to mean: every day from now on. It’s a lesson for eternity. But what we see in the sky and on earth should help us believe.

We recount twice daily that when you obey G^d, “then your days and your children’s days will multiply to be all over this Land [same word as ground] that G^d swore to your ancestors to give to them as long as the ground will face the sky” (Deuteronomy 11:21). That’s a long time.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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