The FJMC Sefer Haftarah is at Midway Jewish Center, 330 South Oyster Bay Road, Syosset, NY, this week.
The week of July 31st, it will be at Temple Beth Shalom, 401 Roslyn Road, Roslyn Heights, NY

The Unraveller is sponsored this week by the Har Zion Men's Club, Penn Valley, PA in honor of all the great things that the FJMC does to bring Jewish Men to Jewish Life.

This week's portion in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by Florence Katz in memory of her late husband, FJMC Past President Sid Katz, Z'L
The Sefer Devarim is not yet sponsored and still available.

Did you know that the FJMC offers individual Haftarah parshiyot suitable for framing? Click here for the PDF

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Editorial Board
Rabbi Wayne Allen
Rabbi Leonard S. Berkowitz
Rabbi Paul Drazen
Dr Rela Mintz Geffen
Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi
Rabbi Stephan Parnes

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Randall Smith

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July 24, 2010
Shabbat Nachamu
Parashat Vaetchanan
Isaiah 40:1-26

This week's haftarah is named Shabbat Nachamu because it begins with the phrase Comfort, Comfort, My people, (nachamu, nachamu ami). It is the first of seven haftarot of consolation. Each of these haftarot was selected from the book of Isaiah chapter 40-66 and should be understood as unit even though they are not in a sequential order. During the Middle Ages our sages suggested a number of reasons for this order but it is only conjectural. Modern scholarship suggests that this haftarah unit was developed in Palestine and was brought to Babylonia by Rav. In a collection of Books called the Apocrypha, (books written during the time of the Bible but not included in it) there is a book called Baruch. Baruch was Jeremiah's scribe and his book was most likely published around the time of the early Hasmoneans that is the mid 2nd century B.C.E. The style of Baruch's speeches is similar to those of Isaiah's big seven. Similar literary parallelism exists up until the 7th century C.E. Today the general consensus is that these special haftarot were standardized in Israel by the 5th Century.

The Setting: Consider that there might have been a number of people named Isaiah or who published under that name. The first thirty-nine chapters chronicle the life of a man who lived prior to the birth of King Hezekiah, (remember the reference to Handel's messiah mentioned in parshat Yitro, Isaiah chapter 6 where I mentioned that Isaiah was predicting the birth of Hezekiah, a king who ruled for forty years?) One of the highlights of this Isaiah's life took place in 701 B.C.E., when the Assyrians surprisingly decided not to conquer Jerusalem and Jerusalem was saved. These incidents are recorded in chapters 36-39.

The seven weeks begins with Chapter 40, this morning's haftarah, and reflects a different world and a different time.

Yes, grasshopper that is why it is referred to as Second Isaiah. This morning's haftarah is one of consolation and comfort being delivered to the Judeans who were exiled to Babylon between 597 B.C.E. and 586 and to the destroyed city of Jerusalem. The haftarah also suggests that exile from Jerusalem will shortly come to an end and a return would be possible. This leads us to believe that the author lived after 538. 538 B.C.E. was the year that Cyrus, the Mede, conquered and usurped the Babylonian empire. Cyrus was the ruler who authorized the rebuilding of the Temple.

It is time to let the dialogue found in the seven haftarot of 2nd Isaiah begin. Don't despair my ancestors, “follow the road in the desert” Have faith, move on.

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/

The FJMC weekly haftarah commentary is one of the few haftarah commentaries available on line. The USCJ through its Fuchsberg Center in Jerusalem has also been posting a weekly haftarah commentary for a number of years. We highly recommend it. If you are interested you can find a link on the left side of our weekly commentary and click through.

In 2003 the FJMC commissioned a Sefer Haftarah, a scroll consisting of all the Haftarot which follows the Haftarah order that appears in the USCJ and Rabbinical Assembly Torah translation and commentary Etz Hayim. The FJMC Sefer Haftarah visits a different synagogue in North America every week.This scroll contains vowels and cantillation and allows the haftarah reader to experience the Haftarah in a more personal way. FJMC also produces individual personalized Haftarot for those who wish to recognize a special occasion. Scrolls of Haftarot have been in use since the early middle ages.

Did you know that a number of groups use the Unraveller as a starting point for discussions at morning minyan or on Shabbat?
If you're part of a group that does, let us know! We'll be happy to list the locations and times you meet to encourage others to attend.

sefer haftorah
Yasher Koach from the Unraveller to the Men's Club and the entire congrergation at West Suburban Har Zion, River Forest, IL, FJMC Mid West Region members, who recently completed the purchase of their own Sefer Haftorah from the FJMC.
The FJMC Sefer Haftorah is a wonderful addition to your synagogue's Shabbat service and also can be an incredible fund raising opportunity.
Call 212-749-8100 for details
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