Isaiah I: 1- 27
Isaiah (prophet)- c.740 – 685 BCE
This painting was created in response to the senseless killing of innocent Israeli soldiers on leave a few years ago. Called “Hesped” (Eulogy) it is King David’s eulogy over King Saul and Jonathan. Two psalms are written in the top corners. The writing was done in 23K gold leaf to represent the pain of loss, like fire on fire. Click on the painting to enlarge it.
This haftarah always precedes the fast of Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av). It is a desolate haftarah where Isaiah recounts how God laments that His children – B’nei Yisrael – have rebelled against Him. They are corrupt, their prayers are empty and their sacrifices are meaningless.
The haftarah is bleak, expressing Gd’s disappointment in His people and longing for them to improve. Gd and Isaiah are begging the children of Israel to improve their behaviour. Gd asks Israel to “Learn to do well; Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1: 17)
Right now we are nearing the end of the “Three Weeks” which is a period of mourning and reflection that occurs between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. It is a time of solemnity and is used to reflect on our behaviour. Can we perform a good deed and help another person? Can we cut back on- or even stop- our gossiping? What can we do to improve ourselves and the world around us?
It is a strange coincidence- or is it- that this year Israel is engaged in Operation Protective Edge. It is a defensive battle against the terrorist organization Hamas during these three weeks of mourning. Precious lives have been lost, but the battle must go on until the secret tunnels from Gaza to Israel are eradicated, the enemy weapons caches are destroyed, and the citizens of Israel can sleep at night without suffering continued rocket attacks from Gaza.
(Photos from Ohel Arl Community, organized by Rachel Jacoby, Erica Jacoby, Nicole Azulay)
The people in Israel and Israel’s supporters are trying to do just what Gd called for. We are looking for ways to help. We are thinking of the young soldiers on the fronts lines who are protecting Israelis and trying to spare innocent civilians in Gaza. We are thinking of Israeli families traumatized by death and destruction of their homes and communities. We are thinking of the extra burden on the health system and front line care workers.
Beautifully, love and energy and resources have been mobilized to send support, prayers, and good deeds to help win the war- not only by might but by faith and “mitzvoth”.
If you want to help you can donate to one of many organizations that are on the ground assisting those affected by the conflict. Magen David Adom, Leket, Yad Sarah, UJA, Soroka Hospital, Beit HaLochem Canada, One Family, are just a few. If you don’t want to send money, send prayers. It’s all good.
We hope to win the war with as little bloodshed as possible so we can live in our land in peace. May it be soon. Amen
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