Seventh haftarah of consolation

Rabbi Jan Uhrbach
Ki Tetzei By :  Jan Uhrbach Acting Dean of the Rabbinical and Cantorial Schools Posted On Sep 7, 2018 / 5778 | The Voice of the Prophet | Social Justice

We might expect that for the seventh and final haftarah of comfort, the Sages would have chosen a passage recounting complete redemption. Instead, we are given a vision of the removing of obstacles, and the building of a solid foundation, to permit a path forward. Two such obstacles—“rocks” to be removed—are highlighted.

One is silence—whether refusing to speak out or act in the face of injustice, or more generally, engaging in denial and self-deception about one’s inner and outer reality. Therefore, central to “building up the highway” is the commitment to speak truth (“For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still . . . I have set watchmen who shall never be silent”).

The other roadblock is destructive anger. Indeed, the prophet imagines God reflecting on God’s own anger and the damage it caused, serving as a role model for human beings in doing the same. This combination of emotional maturity (regulating anger appropriately) with a commitment to speak truth and act on it, coupled with reclaiming a sense of joy and delight, seems to constitute the “royal highway” to a renewed self and society.

Food for thought:

  • When have you been angry in a destructive way, in a way you now regret?
  • How can you make amends and repair what you damaged?
  • When have you remained silent when you should have spoken or acted?
  • Are there things you need to say or do now?
  • Is it possible to speak truth and address injustice without indulging in anger that is destructive?
  • What role do joy and delight have in finding that balance?

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