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The Haftarah for Shabbat Parashat Parah 5762
After the Future Redemption, Hashem will Purify Bnai Yisrael. We read this week's Haftorah from the Book of Ezekiel Chapter 36:16-38
The Parah Adumah or Red Heifer: There is a mysterious significance to the Red Heifer. It would purify the impure and render the pure, impure. The Parah Adumah, a female, perfectly red cow, was slaughtered and burned to make ashes for purifying impure persons and objects from pollution by human corpses. (Numbers 19.) The laws of the Red Cow are found among the Laws of the Kohanim or Priests. The Israelites had to provide a perfect unblemished red female cow that had not been agriculturally worked.
The Story Line of This Week's Haftorah: 36:16-19 The reason for Bnai Israel's exile is because of their sins of defiling the Land and the Nation of Israel. The Jews were guilty of idol worshipping, bloodshed and adultery. All three led to the Jews being sent into exile. After Bnai Yisrael was exiled Hashem gave Ezekiel a prophecy that would give hope to the Jews. 36:20-23 - The reason for the Jews being able to return to Israel after 70 years of exile, was not that they had repented and earned the right of returning to Israel. It was that Hashem did not want the enemies of Israel to say, "we succeeded in wiping out Hashem's nation, the Israelites" 36:24-27 The future spiritual renaissance will begin by Hashem purifying Bnai Yisrael. Hashem will remove their Yetzer Harah (evil urge) from their hearts and give them "new" hearts with a pure spirit. Hashem will change us from having "hearts of stone" to "hearts of flesh." These hearts will enable us to embrace observing the part of the Torah called the "Chukim" (Laws with no logical reasons). That was given to us. Ezekiel promises that in the future, prophecy will return to Bnai Yisrael. 36:28-36 Ezekiel experiences a prophecy about future material blessings. Ezekiel predicts that the Jews, who are Hashem's "chosen people," will live safely in the Land of Israel, permanently. They will believe in Hashem and keep his mitzvoth. Hashem promises to help and save the Jewish people. Hashem will put Israel's former impurities behind them. Then Hashem will bless the produce of Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel) with abundance. Ezekiel's prophecy explains that we will never have to worry about having to leave our homeland again. We will not have to go elsewhere to get food for ourselves, like Abraham and Jacob did. Hashem then says that the Jew should do "Teshuva" or Repentance. Once again Hashem reminds the Jews that they are not actually deserving of his kindness, they are just beneficiaries of his mercy. 36:37-38 Hashem will cause the Jews to multiply abundantly. Just like there used to be uncountable sacrifices of sheep in King Solomon's temple, during the Holidays, so will Hashem bless Bnai Yisrael with uncountable children.
The Haftorah's Connection between the Parasha and Haftorah: This Shabbat is 3rd of the 4 special Shabbatot before Pesach. (Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, Hachodesh). We read a special passage from the Torah, which refers to the Parah Adumah. It tells us about the process of cleansing oneself from the impurity absorbed when touching a dead body. When the Holy Temple was standing all Jews that were ritually impure, cleansed themselves during this time of year, so that they would become ritually pure in time for Passover. This enabled them to offer the Passover sacrifice. The Haftorah describes how after the arrival of the Messiah, Hashem will spiritually "sprinkle upon Bnai Yisrael the purifying waters" and enable the nation to be permanently pure.
Haftorahman's Lesson of the week: The Mitzvah of the Parah Adumah commemorated the practice of purification that was observed by the Jewish people in the ancient days. At the same time it impresses upon us the need for moral purification, which is the theme of the Haftorah for Parashat Parah. It is the time for us to decide what sins are we ready to free ourselves from. Pick the one sin that you feel you are ready to decrease doing by 50%. Let's use talking "Loshon Hara" as an example. Make a game plan. Try writing it down in your journal every time you commit that specific sin, or get a friend of yours to be your partner in this effort to reduce talking slander about others. Remember King David's advice to his son King Solomon was "Overcome your impulses."
The Biography of Ezekiel ben Buzi: His name "means Hashem will strengthen." Ezekiel wrote his own book. He was a Kohen. He was a major prophet that recorded the warnings to the Jewish captives of Babylon. He experiened his prophecies just before the destruction of Jerusalem on Tishah Be'av (The 9th of Av). He was a villager. His wife died suddenly. He was exiled in 597 B.C.E. His prophetic ministry lasted 20 years. Some of his visions were experienced while he was in exile. Ezekiel was the only prophet to experience a prophecy while outside the Land of Israel. He died in Bavel. He was among 8000 exiles taken to Babylon by Nevuchadnezzar, King of Babylon soldiers. He saw the divine vision of the Ma'aseh Hamerkavah - Hashem's Throne.
Famous phrases from the Book of Ezekiel: Said during "U'Vah Letzion", "Vatesaeni ruach Vaeshma kol ra'ash Gadol". And a spirit lifted me and I heard a great sound.
Timeline: This Haftorah occurred about 2600 years ago.
Map: This Haftorah took place in Bavel (Babylonia). Ezekiel was one of the only prophets to experience prophecies outside of the Land of Israel.
Written by: The Haftorahman - Reuven Gavriel ben Nissim Ebrahimoff 5762-2002
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