July 9, 2024
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Parshat Ki Teitzei

The final chapters of Sefer Yeshayahu, from the 40th perek until the 66th, are known as the pirkei geula, the chapters of redemption, as they focus upon the glorious future that awaits Israel, and not on the sins of the nation that would soon lead to their exile. It is for this reason that all of the seven post-Tish’a B’Av selections are taken from these very chapters. The haftarah we read this Shabbat is actually made up of two prophecies of comfort, combining the selection we read last Shabbat (Parshat Re’eh) with this week’s reading. Both messages are taken from the 54th chapter, with five additional verses from the 55th chapter added to last week’s haftarah.

As we have learned in the past, each individual haftarah is meant to exceed the prior ones in reassuring and consoling the nation. It is interesting, therefore, to ponder what message is found in the short 10 pesukim of today’s selection that led Chazal to see it as a more consoling prophecy than the ones we have read in previous weeks. Certainly, the promise to increase Israel’s population and broaden her borders were most welcome, but they were not new, being found in earlier nevuot. Likewise, God’s assurance to rebuild the ruined cities and return the people to their land has been heard in our earlier readings.

I would suggest, therefore, that the most powerful and comforting message we find in this selection is Hashem’s declaration that just as He vowed never again to flood the world as He did in Noah’s time, so He takes an oath never to pour out His wrath upon His people. A commitment taken through an oath by the Holy One was one the people fully believed and was, perhaps, the reason why the opening words of this prophecy call upon the nation to rejoice, “Rani akara.”

Yet, in many ways, it is the final promise given at the end of this first section that speaks loudly to us today. It is God’s promise, guaranteeing His love for His people even when they sin, and even when He must punish them. Indeed, there are few prophecies that compare to these loving words, “For though the mountains may be moved and the hills may falter—My mercies will never be removed from you…says Hashem….”

By Rabbi Neil N. Winkler

 Rabbi Neil Winkler is the rabbi emeritus of the Young Israel of Fort Lee and now lives in Israel.

 

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