Moshe calls on Heaven and earth to be witnesses and guarantors to the covenant between God and the Jews:

הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי פִי – Listen, Heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. (32:1)

In parentheses, it is important to note that Heaven obviously does not mean the sky – there aren’t choirs of angels in the stratosphere. The Torah speaks in metaphors people can understand – Heaven simply means “Beyond”. Earth here likely means the physical, observable universe.

The “action” undertaken is not the same; Heaven is requested to “listen” to the proceedings, literally “to incline an ear”, whereas the earth is merely told “to hear”. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch notes that “inclining an ear” expresses greater attentiveness than “hearing”. Hearing can be done without exerting effort, and without even intending to; but “inclining an ear” clearly indicates a desire to listen.

This is poetic and metaphorical, but still means something, so worth analysing. Why is Heaven a more active participant than earth?

Perhaps it is because while Creation is a fusion of Heaven and earth, Heaven is where the natures and reality of all things are rooted. Things unfold on earth, but more passively, because most (all?) things – outcomes, developments, social conditions, pretty much everything that isn’t based on free will – hinge on extraterrestrial cosmic conditions we call “Heaven” – the control room. Nature is the ultimate servant of God – it has stayed on the path set during the six days of Creation. It couldn’t be otherwise, what with the lack of free will. Nature remains confined to the laws it was created with.

This is why earth is given a more passive role, while Heaven is the back end of things, so given an active role.

As we approach the end of the Torah, it coincides with many of the Chagim. It is vital to remember that all you can do is make a choice – everything else is out of your hands. Be grateful for all the good granted to you, and pray.