Haftarah The Second Day of Rosh Hashanah (Jeremiah 31:1-19)
September 26, 2014 / 2 Tishre 5775
Rosh HaShanah is also known as Yom HaZikaron – The day of Remembrance, in part, on account of our expectation that God will remember His loving relationship with His people and forgive them during this season of repentance. This particular theology is highlighted in the choice of the haftarah for the second day of Rosh HaShanah, which speaks of God’s intimate relationship early on with the Northern Kingdom, the people of Israel, otherwise known in Jeremiah’s prophecy as Ephraim. Jeremiah speaks of God’s desire to redeem them from exile despite their foibles on account of this special love for them. The power of this love is expressed most poignantly in the final verse of the haftarah: “Truly, Ephraim is a dear son to Me, a child that is a joy! Whenever I have turned against him, My thoughts would dwell on him still. That is why My heart yearns for him; I will receive him back in love, declares the Lord.”
The following midrashimexplore the nature of this love which seemingly overrides God’s strict sense of justice:
In the first midrash, God’s strict justice is tempered by the mercy born of His remembering Israel as His beloved children. God willingly saves them on account of His parental sympathy for them. In the second midrash, he accords them mercy on account of the memory of their noble origins.
All of us are in need of mercy, love and encouragement in this season of repentance. It behooves us to take advantage of our “special relationship” with God not just as a means to technically “clean our slates” but also as a means to make ourselves worthy of being both God’s “children” and the children of the noble founders of our faith.
This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem offers students of all backgrounds the skills for studying Jewish texts. We are a vibrant, open-minded egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn, practise and grow together. Our goal is to provide students the ability and desire to continue Jewish learning and practice throughout their lives. Rashei Yeshiva: Rabbi Joel Levy & Dr. Joshua Kulp. Rabbi Joel Roth, Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus . Sponsors – The Conservative Yeshiva would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Haftarah Commentary: