May 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Parashat Nitzavim

This week’s haftara, the final one of the sheva d’n’chemta, the seven haftarot of consolation, does not only close the post-Tish’a B’av period of consolation, repairing our relationship with God and, thereby, preparing us for Teshuva, our return to Him, it also responds to the predicted destruction of our land that is detailed in this week’s parsha. For, while the Torah warns of a complete devastation of the land that would leave it desolate, the haftarah foresees a time when “ul’artzech lo ye’ameir od ‘sh’mama,’” “your land will no longer be considered ‘desolate.’” Likewise, as pointed out by Rav Yehuda Shaviv, our parasha describes the time of return with the words “V’shav Hashem Elokecha,” which our Rabbis (Megilla 29.) understand as stating that God would suffer in galut with His nation and therefore will return WITH them (‘V’shav”) from the exile. That very thought is echoed in the closing words of the haftarah when the prophet exclaims: “B’tzoratam lo tzar,” “He (Hashem) suffered with them.”

The essential message of this reading, however, is the joy of Israel upon her redemption from galut and the reestablishment of the loving relationship she had with God. “Sos Assis BaShem,” we will rejoice in God as do a bride and groom rejoice in their relationship. The geula will include the establishment of Zion as a light of justice to the nations and the promise that Yerushalayim would be protected by God, Who will punish its oppressors. As the haftarah read before Tish’a B’av describes Zion as a city that had abandoned justice and righteousness this reading brings us full circle back to the sinless time when God shed His light and His favor upon the nation. Just seven weeks ago, on Tish’a B’av, we concluded Megillat Eicha with the prayer that Hashem would “chadesh yameinu k’kedem,” “renew our days as those we once had in the past.” Now, in this final haftarah of consolation, we rejoice at the realization that, indeed, God has brought back that unique connection, one of bride and groom, the same one He had with us in the past.

The message of return and repair is a crucial one for this, the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah. As we focus upon self-judgment and self-improvement, we often tend to allow our regret and remorse to fill us with negative feelings and depressive thoughts, believing that we are unworthy of God’s forgiveness and, therefore, unable to ever obtain a complete pardon from the Holy One. It is therefore essential for us to remember that God is not only a King and Supreme Judge but a loving Father, “Avinu” who is also “Malkeinu,” and who wishes to draw us nearer to Him and once more establish the close and devoted relationship that we had with Him so long ago.

It is at this time that we must remember that the past haftarot, the seven selections that we read after Tish’a B’Av, are not simply meant to be words of comfort and consolation. They are meant to prepare us for the season of t’shuva, reminding us that, as we approach Hashem for forgiveness and ask for a new year of blessing, we do so-not as a rejected nation that was abandoned by her God, but as a people whose punishment has ended and who returns to her King and Father.


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

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles