|August 28, 2010
Isaiah 60: 1-22
If you wish to study alternative selections from the Prophets and First Kings that have a more direct link to the Torah portion read the selection from Deuteronomy 27:22 and 2 Samuel 13
In this the sixth of the special haftarot we see movement and can more easily discern a pattern in the Isaiah haftarot. Our sages cannot fully explain their order and the reasons for their selection, but it is possible to conjecture that a pattern exists that leads us from the darkness described several weeks ago to a place of security and prosperity. Initially we pleaded to God for comfort. This was followed by our being challenged to understand what it felt like for God to have abandoned us. We would have felt just like a child would feel if his/her mother had disappeared. Two weeks ago we were shaken like a parent shakes a child and told to “wake up! I haven't forgotten you” and last week we were told that our future would be glorious. The metaphor continues in this morning's haftarah and we are told to “Get up, recognize the light” Nations will walk by our light” Our children will no longer suffer but be carried in joy upon our shoulders. All that I have promised you is coming to pass, I am your light and you will bathe in my brightness.
Okay, I get it and in less than two weeks it will be Rosh Hashanah. We have gone through a penitent period that has begun to lift as we get closer to celebrate the joy of renewal. But frankly, this haftarah reads like bad poetry. I am no longer inspired. The metaphors are repetitious I want something more. Deuteronomy is a fascinating book what can the other books in the Bible offer me?
The following selection from this morning's Torah reading has a connection to the book of Samuel and the story of the rape of Tamar, the sister of Absalom. Absalom was the third son of David. He was born in Hebron around 1007 B.C.E. David had two older brothers, Chileab (2 Samuel 3-3) and Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1). They either died young or were mentally handicapped because Absalom, the next oldest was the most obvious candidate for succession.
Cursed be he who lies with his sister, whether daughter of his father or of his mother.
When Absalom's half-brother Ammon, raped Absalom's full-sister, Tamar. Absalom assumed the responsibility of avenging her honor. The story is well worth a read. Like too many grade B movies which are made today, the story is filled with passion and challenges us to consider the implications of tragedy. What does it mean to “get even”? What will it take if anything to have our feelings appeased?
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Charles Simon,
Executive Director of the FJMC and author of
"Building A Successful Volunteer Culture: Finding Meaning in Service in the Jewish"
Jewish Lights Publishing.
Translation of the Haftarah may be found here: http://www.jtsa.edu/PreBuilt/ParashahArchives/jpstext/
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!
If you're using The Unraveller as a study aid, consider sponsoring an issue or two. We're always able to accommodate your requests and we need your continued sponsorship to continue to publish the Unraveller.
Study sessions are happening at Beth Shalom in Oak Park Michigan on Thursday mornings.
Note from the Publisher:
The month of Elul, the last before the Yomim Norim, the High Holidays, marks the end of the regular cycle of haftarot and the beginning of a new direction for The Unraveller.
Those with sharp eyes would have notice that the masthead has changed from "Understanding and unravelling the Weekly Haftarah" to "Understanding and unravelling the secrets of Jewish Life."
We'll be changing scope a little bit and offer a new direction in this publication; one that will explain and enlighten you about the vast traditions, rituals and rules of Judaism. To that end, we're working with Jewish scholars and teachers to provide special insights that we will continue to send you each week in this format.
We need your help though. First, we welcome submissions for publication. If there is something you can teach us, please send it to us for publication. We're looking to include music, talmud and halacha, and if you can add anything, please send it to us at email@example.com.
Second, we ask that you forward this newsletter to your friends, colleagues and congregants, and ask them to join the list. The link is right here: http://www.fjmc-consultants.org/seferhaftarah-sign-up.html
Third, we ask that you consider becoming a sponsor of The Unraveller. It's easy, and sponsorships help us to continue the work of the FJMC. This publication is the product of volunteers and donors and we'd like you to join us. There's always room for you here.
In closing, thank you for making The Unraveller the success it has become, and let us be the first to wish you L'Shana Tovah!