Last week we were in a state of mourning, remembering the many calamities that have fallen upon the jewish people, and in particular the destructions of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The haftarahs we read were “Haftarahs of Rebuke” with readings from Jeremiah and Isaiah.
This week is parshat V’Etchanan, the first Torah reading after Tisha B’Av. It is a very special text, a letter of love from Gd to His people.
In this reading we hear the Ten Commandments for the second time (the first being in the Book of Exodus). We also read the Shema- the prayer we say three times every day. At the end of the reading are these beautiful words, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your Gd. The Lord your Gd has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors…” (D’varim 7: 6-8)…
These texts are all gifts to us as a people. They reinforce dignity, respect for others and for the land, and the concept that we are not anarchists. We are responsible to a higher force Who insists on respect towards nature, humanity and all creation.
The haftarah is from the book of Isaiah. In this haftarah, Isaiah’s words rang with optimism and made many allusions to nature. Isaiah spoke of God’s greatness and how He renews the world. He assured the Jews that God would return them to Israel. The text mentions the peaks and the valleys of nature which parallel the heights and the depths of life, experience, and history. This haftarah is called “Shabbat Nachamu” meaning the “Sabbath of Consolation”. It is read on the Sabbath following the fast of Tisha B’Av.
The painting reflects Isaiah’s words, [Gd]“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and measured out heaven with a span, and meted the dust of the earth with a measure, and weighed the mountains with a scale and the hills with a balance” (Isaiah 40:12)
I hope you also see these texts as messages of love, of Gd’s promises to us, and His patience. May we see the fruition of the promises- peace in Israel- the land promised to us, and respect of all people to others.
Shabbat Shalom, Laya
The artwork featured in this and most of my blogs is part of a collection of art created to illustrate the haftarahs read throughout the year. Currently the collection is on exhibit at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto, Canada. It is a great exhibit of my work and will be on display to the end of December, 2019. And, to let you know, I am currently working on a book of the art pieces and accompanying commentary. Exciting!!!! Best, Laya