|October 19, 2012 / 3 Heshvan, 5773
Haftarah Noah Ashkenazim: Isaiah 54:1-55:5
This commentary is a reprint of an original written and published in 2010 by Rabbi Charles Simon. It's one of the commentaries that Rabbi Simon was writing when he began to work on his new book, described below.
The haftarah and Torah portion are connected by the reference to the flood in the days of Noah which is found in verse 9. ”For this to Me is like the waters of Noah: As I swore that the waters of Noah nevermore would flood the earth, so I swear that I will not be angry with you or rebuke you. For the mountains may move and the hills be shaken, but my loyalty shall never more from you, nor my covenant of friendship be shaken, - said the Lord, who takes you back in love."
God is making a new agreement a new covenant with the people of Israel. First, God is promising a certain stability of nature. Second, God is making a pact with humanity. The Noachide Pact was for everyone.
It must have been extremely consoling for our ancestors who lived when this haftarah was written, to know they were being given a second chance and were being forgiven with the construction of the new Temple. It must have been even more comforting for the rabbis living in the aftermath of the Bar Kokba rebellion to understand the permission to rebuild the Temple as a sign of God's operating in history. This prophecy reassured them that in spite of all that had transpired, God still loved them.
We, on the other hand, living with global warming and subsequent disruption of our climate, could ask "Would this imply God’s mind has changed?" This question goes to the heart of a debate in the world of our prophets. Some of them asked, as did Jonah, could God's mind be changed? Isaiah and Malachi didn't think so.
Everybody knew that the word of God that has gone forth does not come back. Isaiah 45:23
And that the lord changes not. Mal 3:6
There seems to be consensus that God can postpone.
Isaiah told Hezekiah he was sick and would die. Hezekiah prayed and fifteen years were added to his life. Nathan predicated a punishment on the house of David. The king repented and the prophet uttered a new oracle, David shall live but the child he begot in sin shall surely die.
Jonah was a prophet. He heard the word of God, but in ancient Israel, the prophet simply delivered a message and it was up to the recipient to make choices. Jonah's prediction against Ninevah was conditioned on the sincere repentance of the people of the land.
Jeremiah understood this a bit differently. Observing how the potter refashioned marred clay, he discovered that God can act in the same way. God will repent of the harm he was going to do and so can a Nation. On the High Holidays we constantly repeat the phrase, “Repentance, Prayer and Righteousness can avert/modify the severe degree.” Judgment can be suspended.
Ezekiel tells us that salvation depends upon man's conduct. The people of Nineveh changed their ways.
Jeremiah hoped against hope that in the last hour his people might be transformed and the final doom turned aside. He published a collection of prophecies to convince the house of Judah to become aware of all the evils which they would incur if they chose not to repent from their evil ways. 36:3
Jonah disagreed. If you remember the story, that's one of the reasons he was angry. He didn't want God to “change his mind”.
This morning's haftarah reaches across space and time and reminds us that God's promises are conditional and we as partners in the Brit Covenant have to do our part as well. The fulfillment of God’s promises are dependent upon the decisions we make.
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, and the recently published "Understanding the Haftarot: An Everyperson's Guide."
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
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!
|Help the Unraveller begin our 4th year!|Sponsor the Unraveller now!
Contact FJMC Sponsorship Chairman Tom Sudow
for details and to reserve your week!