|November 23, 2012 / 9 Kislev, 5773
Hosea 12:13 - 14:10
The opening verses of the Haphtarah provide the basis of its connection to Parshat Va-yetzei. Hosea reminds the people of the Northern Kingdom that our ancestor Jacob was once a penniless refugee, who had to herd sheep to earn a wife. Yet, God protected him, just as God would later protect Jacob’s descendents during their enslavement in Egypt. All bets are off for the future, however, if the people persist in their current infatuation with idolatry.
But let's focus on the concluding section of this Haphtarah, chapter 14 verses 2-10. It is among only a handful of prophetic texts that appear in Haftarot more than once a year. These verses form the opening section for the Haphtarah of Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.
It is easy to see why the Rabbis had a particular affection for this passage. Hosea’s ability to hone in on the essence of repentance takes you back with its clarity and simplicity:
"Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ’Forgive all guilt and accept what is good..."
Even after all of our idolatry, sin and betrayal, we can find our way back to God. We have to begin with heartfelt words of humility and honesty:
"Instead of bulls we will pay with (The offering of) our lips. Assyria shall not save us, No more will we ride on steeds;
Nor ever again call our handiwork our God, Since in you alone orphans find pity."
The following verses are unusually rich in natural imagery. God’s love is like dew, which will cause Israel to blossom like a lily; his roots shall be sturdy like a cedar, his beauty as an olive tree. These natural images, including taste and smell, liberate us. We can feel ourselves leaving behind the constricted, habitual mind-state of guilt and regret as we step, effortlessly, into an expansiveness of freedom and possibility:
"They shall bring to life new grain, they shall blossom like a vine; His scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Efraim (shall say): “What more have I to do with idols? When I respond and look to Him, I become like a verdant cypress."
It as if, waking up from a dream, what seemed difficult and clouded in obscurity, is revealed in sharp clarity:
"He who is wise will consider these words; He who is prudent will take note of them.
For the paths of the righteous are smooth; the righteous can walk on them, while sinners stumble on them."
In a world fraught with complexities, may we see clearly. May we find in our hearts a compass that will guide us on a path of honesty, humility and truth.
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Dan Liben. Rabbi Liben was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and has served as the Rabbi of Temple Israel of Natick for 21 years. He loves Israeli Dancing and teaches mindfulness meditation.
Leadership - Innovation - Community
|Understanding the Haftarot:|
An Everyperson's Guide
In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
|It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!
The "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life.
Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin.
A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice.
Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes.
Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression.
Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event.
The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin.
The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.
World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
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