|April 17, 2010
2 Kings 7:3-20
Terms to learn:
Metzora: the name of the Torah portion immediately following parashat Tazria. Metzora refers to active leprosy.
Tzarat is the term describing the leper's skin affliction. The leper is not permitted into the camp until he goes through a ritual cleansing. Parashat Tazria which precedes Parashat Metzora provides a detailed diagnosis of the disease while Metzora is concerned with the remedies for purging it.
Depending upon the calendar cycle it is possible for Tazria and Metzora to be read separately. Sometimes they are combined in which case the haftarah for Metzora is read.
The formal connection between the Torah and Haftarah is the word metzora. It is the title of the Torah portion and also refers to a leper who has a tzarat, an affliction of the skin.
Lepers, poverty and devastation Oh My!
This morning's haftarah is about the power of God's messenger. It almost reads like a joke.
“Just prior to the haftarah's beginning we are told that “Four starving lepers are hanging around the walls of Samaria. They are starving as are most of the people in Samaria. The people were so hungry that they were eating one another. The price of food was out of control! They decide to defect to the Arameans. Back at the palace the King in an act of desperation appeals to Elisha. He replies that everything would be changed within a day.
And then the haftarah begins;
The lepers enter the Aramean camp and find it deserted and filled with food and precious items. They decide to share the news of the route with the starving Samarians. At first they aren't believed but after a scouting party returns with the good news, the people leave their city and recover all the food and bounty of the departed Arameans.
The haftarah is part of the Elisha cycle and the wars against Aram (Syria) that is found in 2 Kings 6:14-7:20. It describes the siege of Samaria by King Ben Hadad of Aram which took place after the accession of Jehoram (2 Kings 3:1-3) the father of Jehu and son Ahab. The events described in the haftarah allegedly took place between 851-842. B.C.E. But what does it mean? What message can we extract from this legendary tale?
Is it intended to inform us that God works through everyone and anyone, even a leper, even those who are the most despised. Such a simple lesson and so easily forgotten or ignored. Perhaps this story can help us bridge the walls of indifference that exist between us and them and motivate us to become more sensitive human beings. Perhaps this is one of the ways that demonstrates God works through history.
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.
The International Kiddush Club is one of the fun events of the FJMC International Convention that has grown into a tremendous fundraiser for the FJMC Tefillin Fund.
Through the efforts of the IKC, the fund has received more than $15,000 for purchases of tefillin (and mezuzot) for those who require them in parts of the world where they are difficult and expensive to find. Recently, Rabbi Jules Harlow and his wife Navah were in Lisbon, Portugal where they met with with Carlos Manuel de Almeida da Silva Baptista, who writes "My astonishment was great, a mixture of amazement and total surprise for the wonderful gift . . . 513 years after the forced conversions". For the full story, visit the Kiddush Club website.
The International Kiddush Club is proud to be affiliated with the FJMC, bringing Jewish Men to Jewish Life.