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Haftorah: VaEtchanan
Isaiah 40:1-26
Shabbat, August 12, 2000 – 11 Av 5760

Torah Outreach Progam

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of comfort, based on the words that open this week’s haftorah, “nachamu nachamu ami” (“Be comforted, my people”). This will be the first of seven consecutive haftorahs that contain prophecies of consolation, leading into Rosh HaShanah.

These haftorahs come on the heels of three consecutive prophecies of disaster and exile. Restoration of ruptured relationships is gradual. God at first only urges others (his prophets) to comfort Israel; the Jews thus still feel rejected, though blessed. Israel, as after the Golden Calf atonement, yearns for the return of Divine Intimacy.

To achieve this, Jews must deeply experience God as the exclusive source and perpetuator of all existence. Britain’s chief rabbi, Joseph Hertz, who dies in 1946, noted that Jews, as Moshe, admired mountains, reaching toward heaven; Romans despised these annoying obstacles to their conquest of this world, e.g. Jerusalem.

Isaiah too speaks here of pulling down mountains to pave the road to Jerusalem. Perhaps he refers to the spiritual “mountains” of Esau and Yishmael, their false claims to transcendence, to true heights of Divine Revelation; they keep man away from the true word of God, which only comes from Sinai, via Jerusalem.

Torah Outreach Program, based in Jerusalem, provides a study of every Torah reading and Jewish Holiday, giving exact citations and interfacing modern culture and knowledge with the Torah and Jewish tradition. By its own description, Torah Outreach Program is apolitical, open, modern Zionist, and “truly traditional,” believing that the written and oral law are from God.

Visit their website at Torah Outreach Program. 

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