Seventh haftarah of consolation

Seventh haftarah of consolation

Sep 7, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Ki Tetzei

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.

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Sixth haftarah of consolation

Sixth haftarah of consolation

Aug 31, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Ki Tetzei

In the sixth haftarah of consolation, Isaiah draws heavily on the metaphor of light and darkness, and the repair and redemption is imagined as individuals’ and society’s embodiment of divine light. When God’s presence truly shines upon a person or nation, that person or nation is in turn able to bring light to others. This light—which may be understood as moral guidance and instruction, truth, compassion, justice, unification, love—is the true source of power and honor, the “wealth” of which the prophet speaks.

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Fifth haftarah of consolation

Fifth haftarah of consolation

Aug 24, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Ki Tetzei

This fifth haftarah of comfort describes a process of reconciliation. Now on the other side of the abyss, God’s anger and “hiding of the face” can be seen in retrospect as temporary, even momentary, and confidence on the reliability of love and kindness can be restored.

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Fourth haftarah of consolation

Fourth haftarah of consolation

Aug 17, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Shofetim

This fourth and middle haftarah of consolation and comfort begins with a challenge to the people: why do you allow a mere mortal, however seemingly powerful, to send you into a tailspin of fear and anxiety? Isaiah points out that the people are suffering not only from externally imposed oppression, but from their own internal response—dread, reeling like a drunkard, despair. This hopelessness that denies or ignores unforeseen possibility and unexpected redemption is called “forgetting God.”

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Third haftarah of consolation

Third haftarah of consolation

Aug 10, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Re'eh

This third haftarah of consolation and comfort contains a beautiful promise of a society established on righteousness, and consequently free of oppression and fear and safe from ruin. Most strikingly, it critiques the worldview that sees the accumulation of wealth and material possessions as the highest value, offering an alternative vision, in which that which truly satisfies is available “without money.”

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Second haftarah of consolation

Second haftarah of consolation

Aug 3, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

Underlying this second haftarah of comfort is a sense of near-despair: the people lament having been abandoned by God, and God responds to their unspoken fear that God is powerless to save them. As the honest grief of the heart and soul that knows what it has lost, such despair is necessary; without it, comfort and hope are false. But despair is dangerous too; it can lead to helplessness, disengagement, and resignation to injustice. It can also create an inability to embrace a redemptive message: while the people lament being abandoned by God, God is calling to them and being ignored.

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First haftarah of consolation (Shabbat Nahamu)

First haftarah of consolation (Shabbat Nahamu)

Jul 27, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

This special haftarah, which begins nahamu nahamu ami—“comfort, oh comfort, My people,” is the first of seven special haftarot of comfort (drawn from Isaiah 40–63). During these seven weeks, the relationship between the people and God—strained almost to breaking on Tishah Be’av—is slowly rebuilt, allowing us to stand before God once again on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

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Third Haftarah of Rebuke (Shabbat Hazon)

Third Haftarah of Rebuke (Shabbat Hazon)

Jul 20, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Devarim | Tishah Be'av

In this third haftarah of calamity or rebuke, the opening chapter of Isaiah, the once noble society has sunk to the level of Sodom and Gomorrah. Strikingly, there is no dearth of external piety (indeed, God is over-satiated to the point of disgust with the people’s offerings and prayers), nor is there any charge of sexual impropriety or impurity. Rather, the suffering of the people is caused by injustice, indifference to the cries of the vulnerable, oppression, systemic greed, and selfish and self-serving leadership.

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First and second haftarot of rebuke

First and second haftarot of rebuke

Jul 6, 2018 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Masei | Mattot | Pinehas | Tishah Be'av

Chapters 1 and 2 of Jeremiah constitute the first two haftarot of “calamity” or rebuke. In them, the prophet anticipates disorienting but necessary societal upheaval; he is called “to uproot and pull down, destroy and overthrow,” and also “to build and to plant.” 

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The Voice of the Prophet

The Voice of the Prophet

Oct 10, 2017 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Podcast or Radio Program

Reclaim the message of the prophets for today with the weekly Haftarah portion narrated in English by renowned actor Ronald Guttman.

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