Ki Teitze

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Isaiah 54: 1-10

Isaiah (prophet)- c. 740 – 681 BCE 765 B.C.E.

This is the fifth “Haftarah of Consolation”- the fifth week since Tisha b’Av- the time of mourning the destruction of our First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

Isaiah continues to comfort us. He assures b’nei Yisrael that their tents will enlarge, they will have more food and drink than they need for mere sustenance; that babies will be born and their descendants will cross the land. In verse 6 the image of a wife and marriage is used. At the end of the haftarah the following beautiful phrase is recited, “Though the mountains may depart and the hills be removed my compassion for you will not depart.” (54: 10) This phrase is a confirmation of God’s love for the children of Israel.

Here we are, still in the month of Elul, the time of “Ani leDodi v’Dodi Li”- I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. How better to illustrate this haftarah than to go back to our history of beautiful manuscripts and refer to an Italian wedding scene?

Italy was a country of city-states. Depending upon which city state a Jew lived in the conditions could vary radically. A Jew could be impoverished and endangered or live a life of comfort and privilege. Some of the communities in Italy were incredibly wealthy to the point that the Jewish leaders tried to put a limit on spending. In 1418 there was a synod of the Jewish community in Forli to prohibit or at least limit lavish spending. Here we see rendering of a beautiful ceremony.

                    ki teitze0009       

The painting for this haftarah is based on a marriage scene from an Italian manuscript – the Arba’a Turim of Jacob ben Asher, Mantua, Italy, 1435. The clothing is amazing. The bride and lady in waiting are wearing brightly coloured and embroidered brocade gowns lined with fur. The groom is also wearing a fur lined “giornea” (an overgown) and very stylish stockings- each one a different colour. In the original illumination (which is in the Vatican) the bride and groom are also shown at their first dance wearing, again, amazing attire.

The border design on the original manuscript is quite amazing. The floral and dense decoration is full of gold. The illumination is on a page discussing the laws of marriage. The title words are : “Lo Tov”- “It Is Not Good”… for a man to be alone.

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And if you have a wedding to attend- enjoy!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Ki Teitze

  1. Gwen

    Laya, your research for each Haftarah is admirable and in this instance, highly enjoyable. The illustration was both insightful and mirthful. What a lovely way to approach Shabbat and a new year, remembering past Beginings and preparing for new ones .
    Tovah/Gwen

  2. Thanks Gwen. As you can tell i love doing the research. One of the interesting elements – other than learning from the words of the haftaroth- is seeing how life doesn’t change all that much throughout the millennia. Back in 1418 the community leaders were wringing their hands over lavish over the top weddings. The bride and groom in “ermine and pearls” (although now it’s politically incorrect to wear ermine.) Thanks again for your comments.

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