|September 14, 2012 / 27 Elul, 5772
Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9
The images are certainly evocative: a bride and groom in their finery, watchmen on alert for the imminent return of exiles, a pathway cleared for those coming to a previously forsaken city, a victorious God wearing battle-stained clothing, exacting vengeance on Israel’s enemies. Collectively, these images convey the joy and confidence of a people whose hopes are going to be fulfilled. The haftarah succeeds as a message of consolation – the last of seven. But this is no ordinary Shabbat: it is the last Shabbat of year and the one immediately preceding Rosh HaShanah. As such, it should not be out of line to expect at least some message pertinent to the occasion.
A closer reading of the text does not disappoint. The prophet Isaiah assures the people Israel that henceforth God will protect them from the assaults of enemies who would raid their farms and deprive them of their harvests (Isaiah 62:8). Instead, the people Israel would enjoy the crops they had labored to grow. On this level, the prophet promises Divine protection, security from ravaging foes. The ensuing verse builds on the same theme. "They that gather up [the corn] shall eat it; they that collect [the grapes] shall drink [the wine]." But the brilliance of any prophetic declamation is that it may bear multiple meanings. That is the case here. On another level, the prophet is hinting at personal responsibility. And taking personal responsibility for one’s actions is a central theme of the Days of Awe.
Assigning blame and denying accountability are part of human nature. We are loathe to confess our shortcomings and more likely to justify them when they are exposed. That people own what they make – and must own up to what they make - is a countervailing idea. And that is precisely what Isaiah implies.
Some retailers – especially those that sell fine china and crystal – display their wares behind locked cabinets. Others, who choose not to invest in the expense of display cabinets post signs that say "Fragile." Others go further and warn potential customers "Do Not Touch." But the most instructive signs are those that read: "You break it, you buy it." There is no clearer expression of the consequences for any misdeeds.
We are the makers of our own success and we are the fashioners of our own failures. As the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 17a) voices the underlying idea through the experience of one sage: it all depends on us.
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Wayne Allen, Ph.D. Rabbi Allen has served as a congregational rabbi for 35 years, taking on postings in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. He is currently serving as the Provost of the Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School. He is the author of Perspectives on Jewish Law and Contemporary Issues, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Israel, e-mail: Books@schechter.ac.il.
Visit Rabbi Allen's website for more commentaries and information: rabbiwayneallen.ca
Rabbi Allen is an editorial board member, The Unraveller.
The Canadian Yeshiva and Rabbinical School, a partner in the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, offers exceptional courses for adults as part of its continuing education program. Operating under the principle of "serious teachers for serious students," the Canadian Yeshiva is committed to expanding its offerings on campus and across the Greater Toronto Area. Classes are co-educational and open to adults of all ages. Faculty members cross denominational boundaries: all dedicated to teaching Torah guided by the highest academic standards. For further information, please consult the website: www.cdnyeshiva.org/
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!
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