Haftarah Parshat Ekev (Isaiah 49:14-51:3)
August 8, 2015 / 23 Av 5775
This week’s haftarah is the second of seven special haftarot of solace which follow the fast of Tisha b’Av (Shiva d’nehamta).This being said, the horrible events of the past week prompt me to focus on a verse of solace which also portends a dire warning: “Thus said the Lord: ‘Where is the bill of divorce of your mother whom I dismissed? And which of My creditors was it to whom I sold you off? You were only sold off for your sins and your mother dismissed for your crimes.” (50:1)
In this verse, written during the “Shivat Zion” – the return from the Babylonian exile, God comforts the people by reminding them that He never abandoned them. He never divorced them in a way that they could not return. Instead, their temporary exile was the result of their sinful actions and crimes which could be rectified. God’s offer of solace had an implicit warning though. The return from exile and the rebuilding of the nation required worthy behavior. Unworthy behavior tempted the same sort of tragedy which had occurred in the past.
No amount of divine love can paper over a society’s self-destructive nature. A society which causes God’s embarrassment will fall. A society which misrepresents God’s will will implode. The events of the past week recall the kind of bad behavior which the tradition recollects as the causes of the destruction of the First and Second Temples and the loss of Jewish self-government. In both of these episodes, the majority of the people were not involved in the major transgression. However, it was their complacency which allowed the violence and mayhem which brought them down to happen.
We cannot stand idly by and let this happen again or there will be no solace to be had.
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: