Isaiah (prophet)- c. 740 – 681 BCE
This summer of 2014 or 5774 of the Jewish calendar has been a difficult one. We have just observed the Three Weeks of Mourning culminating with the fast of Tisha B’Av, and we are entering the Seven Weeks of Consolation.
The Torah portion, V’Etchanan, was described by my good friend Rabbi Michael Skobac as being like the ultimate full box of Crayons. Not only do you get all the colours, you get gold and silver too. This parsha carries with it some of the mo st important words of Torah which are the foundations of our faith. The painting on the top of the page shows the giving of the 10 Commandments with images around it describing different elements of our faith. It was created for my son Max on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah.
We read about Moshe speaking to the children of Israel as they are about to enter the land of Canaan. He warns the children of Israel not to forget Gd’s laws. In this parsha we are privileged to read, once again, the 10 commandments and we are also given the “Sh’ma Yisrael”. We are told about the Land of Milk and Honey. We even read the question presented by the first of the four sons at our Pesach seder (Deuteronomy ch. 6 v. 20). So, as Rabbi Skobac said, it is the crayon box including the gold and the silver.
The image on this Haftarah page is one of Moses looking at the land of Canaan- which he has been forbidden to enter. It was a tragic moment. Moshe had dedicated his life to leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land, but he was not allowed to enter. The one consolation- if it was a consolation-was that Gd allowed Moses to see the land of Canaan. Gd said, “Go up to the top of the Pisgah and lift your eyes westward, northward, eastward and southward, and look with your eyes…” 3:27. Moshe saw its greatness and its beauty from a vast perspective that no-one else would ever see. Maybe it was a gift that Moshe did not see the struggles and the sins of b’nei Yisrael once they had entered the Promised Land.
So, here we are beginning the Seven Weeks of Consolation, reading the words of Isaiah. He is still trying to guide a wayward group. And in Israel people are trying to put back the pieces of their lives after a month of war and lives lost.
Hopefully we will be able to live in a peaceful land flowing with Milk and Honey. Hopefully the unity and mutual support we saw in the last few weeks will continue.
All the best and Shabbat Shalom, Laya