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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Parshat Ekev – The 2nd Haftorah of Consolation (#Torah)

Posted by rabbiart on July 29, 2010


This Shabbat we are on the second rung of the seven step ladder leading us up from the depths of Tisha B’Av to the heights of the Holy Days. In this haftorah the prophet oscillates between the themes of abandonment, desolation and the sense of being forgotten on the one hand, and the consoling thought or remembrance and deliverance on the other hand. The haftorah opens with this startling declaration:

וַתֹּאמֶר צִיּוֹן, עֲזָבַנִי יְהוָה; וַאדֹנָי, שְׁכֵחָנִי.

Zion said ‘ HaShem has forsake me, HaShem has forgotten me

Yet the prophet himself responds to this outcry, saying on behalf of the creator

הֲתִשְׁכַּח אִשָּׁה עוּלָהּ, מֵרַחֵם בֶּן-בִּטְנָהּ; גַּם-אֵלֶּה תִשְׁכַּחְנָה, וְאָנֹכִי לֹא אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ

Can a mother forget the child suckling at her breast, would she not have compassion for her very own child? Even if these could be forgotten I will not forget you!

Much of the haftorah continues in this vein; a dialogue between the voice of despair and the voice of hope. At the end Isaiah concludes with an unequivocal message of comfort and consolation. HaShem has comforted Zion, HaShem has turned the wilderness into the garden of Eden and the desert into his very own garden. We are left with this declaration, that we will hear – and give voice to -שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה (sasson and simchah – joy and celebration) thanks-giving and the sound of melody.

In our time when we know too many people who have reason to despair on both the personal and economic front, and about the increasing degree to which Zion our homeland is under attack, it is easy to remain “stuck at Tisha B’Av”. The wavering back and forth between the feelings of despair and the sound of joy is all to easy to understand. The haftorah is a powerful reminder that we can hope for hope, and hope to see hope fulfilled speedily and in our day.

Shabbat Shalom

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