Haftarah Parshat Lekh Lekah
October 16, 2010
8 Heshvan 5771
Haftarah Commentary for Parshat Lekh Lekah (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)
One can easily identify with the angst of the people who complained of their perception that God seemingly heeded neither their good deeds nor their plight: \”Why do you say, O Jacob, why declare, O Israel, \’My way is hid from the Lord, my cause is ignored by my God\’.\” (40:27) Nothing is more demoralizing than existential loneliness in a difficult situation. The feeling of being abandoned is often harder to bear than the situation itself.
Isaiah sought to assuage the people\’s religious despondency over their long exile with a theology of hope that would replace the people\’s sense of God\’s complacency: \”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is God from of old; Creator of the earth from end to end. He never grows faint or weary; His wisdom cannot be fathomed. He gives strength to the weary, fresh vigor to the spent. Youths may grow faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but they who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength as eagles grow new plumes: they shall run and not grow weary, they shall march and not grow faint.\” (40:28-31)
Isaiah offered his message for specific historical circumstances. He wanted to ensure that the returning exiles would not become discouraged and abandon the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem. His message, however, has eternal application. Despair and faithlessness are the human beings worst enemies. They leave people and even nations without the ability to move forward, without the strength to resolve problems, incapacitated. God gives us the strength and the optimism to face life, to build and to accomplish provided that we link ourselves to Him. The human condition leaves each of us as individuals and as a collective challenges and things to overcome. Faith is the key to salvation. Those who link themselves with God \”shall march on and not grow faint\”.
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.
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