Friday, July 27, 2012

Parsha Devarim - Shabbat Hazon: filling the emptiness

 Shabbat Hazon (vision), the name for this shabbat, is taken from the Haftorah Isaiah Ch. I: 1: which describes Isaiah’s vision of disaster befalling the Israel and the possibility of renewal.  The third of the three readings before Tisha B’Av:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken: Children I have reared, and brought up, and they have rebelled against Me;
. . . . Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly; they have forsaken the Lord, they have contemned the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away. . . . Your country is desolate; your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by floods. . . . To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me? Says the Lord; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. . . .  Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
 Isaiah Ch. I:2, 4, 7, 17, 18.

How do we respond to the lamentations and fill the emptiness within and around us?  

May we be blessed to take the time and space to pause and reflect on those lamentations and that emptiness; and then be moved and heed the admonition of Isaiah to do good, seek, justice, and relieve the oppressed.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Haftorah Massei

Matot-Massei - Haftorah Massei - Jeremiah Ch. IV: 1-2: The second of the three readings of admonition before Tisha B’Av, ends with the consolation: “If you will return, O Israel, says the Lord, Yes, return to Me; and if you will put away your detestable things out of My sight, and will not waver; and will swear: ‘The Lord lives in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; then shall the nations bless themselves by Him, and in Him shall they praise.

How do we return to the Lord? First, we must return to the most noble parts of ourselves. Then blessings we receive can flow to others.

May those blessings flow freely and lead to praise.