July 23, 2024
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“Sos asis BaShem”!! For the first time since beginning the series of haftarot of consolation, we hear Israel herself burst forth in song, saying, “I shall rejoice in Hashem!” These are not words of comfort spoken by the prophet nor an encouraging cry from God Himself, but a joyous response by the people of Israel, reflecting their firm belief in the glorious visions of the future redemption that have filled the earlier chapters of Sefer Yeshayahu. Given the fact that this is the first haftarah reading in 10 Shabbatot that no mention is made of Israel’s sins or Hashem’s anger at His people, we well understand why it is the last of the shiva d’nechemta, the seven haftarot of consolation, as it is a message that records the greatest joy and happiness that our nation would experience.

But lest we be misled into believing that this happiness is only a response to their redemption from exile or to the promise of material success, or of victory over their enemies or of any other promise made by the navi, the text makes it clear that our joy would be “BaShem,” in God and in our rapprochement with Him. How fitting that this message is always read as the last haftarah of the year as, having repaired our relationship with God, we are now prepared to stand before Him on Rosh Hashanah, reunited with our Creator once again.

Furthermore, it is equally important for us not to miss the additional message that this haftarah imparts. The exquisite portrayal of Hashem clothing us in salvation and righteousness is compared to the bridegroom and the bride (“k’chatan y’chahen pe’er v’chakallah ta’deh cheileha”) who glory in their splendorous garb. The portrayal of Israel as bride and groom serves as a reminder that our relationship with God is not simply one of King to subject or Judge to the judged. Rather, our overwhelming joy is the understanding that we relate to God as a bride or groom, in a love relationship. This message is so critical prior to standing before God for judgment. We acknowledge that He is Malkeinu, our glorious King, He is also Avinu, our beloved Father.

How comforting to know that it is our Father Who will judge us in the coming days.

No wonder we rejoice, Sos asis.

By Rabbi Neil N. Winkler

Parshiyot Nitzavim/Vayelech

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

 

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