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The Haftarah for Parashat Vayaitzai
Hosea is the first prophet in the Book of Trai Assar (The Twelve Prophets).
The Structure of the Book of Hosea:
Chapters 4-13 predict punishment.
The Story line: The Sins of the Ten Tribes
Sephardim read from Hosea 11:7-14:10.
11:7-9 Bnai Yisrael will never be totally destroyed, even though they deserve it. 11:10,11 Hoshea's prophesy of Bnai Yisrael's future return to the Land of Israel. 12:1,2 The Northern kingdom of the 10 tribes is sinful. 12:3 The kingdom of Judah is also guilty of sin. 12:3-7 What the Jews should have learned from Jacob's story. 12:8-12 More about the sins of fraud and idol worship.
The Ashkenazim pick up where the Sephardim leave off.
Hosea 12:13-14:10 Reproof of the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes.
12:13,14 Hoshea reminds us that our success is in Hashem's hands and not our own. 13:1,2 the kingdom of the ten tribes is blamed for idol worshiping. 13:3-14:1 The punishment for Israel's sins will be exile and death 14:2-4 Hoshea's call to teshuva - repentance. 14:5-9 Hashem's response to teshuva. 14:10 Hashem's ways are just.
The Connection of the Haftarah to the Parasha: Parashat Vayaitzai relates how Yaakov escaped from his murderous brother, Aisav, to Lavans home, where he married Leah and Rachel. The 1st Passuk of the Haftorah summarizes the events from the Parasha.
Haftorahmans thought of the week. Being an understanding person comes easier to some than others. We see in our Haftorah how initially Hoshea was behaving in a judgmental way with Hashem's people, Bnai Yisrael. We he said to Hashem, "If you are not happy with your people, go and find a new one", Hashem "decided" to teach Hoshea a lesson. By arranging for Hoshea to marry a woman and then have her betray him was Hashem's way of teaching Hoshea how to be more empathetic. Now Hoshea would know what it's like to be betrayed, by just one person he loved. Can you imagine being betrayed by a whole nation? This week instead of being "right", get what you "want". If you show mercy, the laws of "measure for measure" would suggest that you would hopefully be dealt with in a merciful way, as well. Remember, it is far better to be dealt with in a merciful way than in a judgmental way, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". When you are thinking this week how to deal with a situation, stop and think, " Am I showing justice or mercy to this other person"? Let me know.
Hoshea's Biography: Hosea's prophecies took place from 760-720 B.C.E. His father's name was Be'eri Hanavi (The Prophet). He was from the tribe of Reuven. He lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, where his prophecies took place. This was just before the Assyrians conquered and exiled the Jews. The name Hoshea means Salvation. He told Hashem "If you don't like the way the Jews are behaving, choose another people". Hashem didn't like that, and then Hashem set out to teach Hoshea a lesson by asking him to marry a woman named Gomer. We know she was from a city called Diblaim. Before she was married to Hoshea she was a harlot. They had 3 children, one was a daughter called Lo-ruhama or Object-of-no-mercy, because Hashem had decided to no longer be merciful with the Jews who refused to repent. And two 2 sons: Lo-ami or Not-my-people, because the Jews had forfeited their claim to being the Hashem's "Chosen People", and Jezreel, The-G-d-of-powerful-mercy-will-plant or Hashem-will-gather-in-the-exiled-Jews-and-plant-them-in-their-homeland. Hashem instructed Hosea to send his family away. Hosea couldn't stand it. (More later). Four prophets prophesied at the same period: Hosea, Isaiah, Amos and Micah. The greatest of them was Hosea, who was the first of the four to experience prophecies. For 40 years Hashem warned the Jewish people through Hosea. His prophecies took place in the time of the first Bait Hamikdash. Hashem spoke to him once. Hosea died in Babylon. At the time when the journey to Palestine was beset with many perils Hosea desired to be buried in the Holy Land. He requested before his death, that his coffin be loaded on a camel and for the camel to make his way as he would. Where-ever he stopped, there Hosea was to be buried. So it was done without a single mishap. The camel arrived in Sefad at the Jewish cemetery of the town. The camel stood still and there Hosea was buried in the presence of a large crowd.
Famous Phrases from the Book of Hosea: Chapter 9:10 Ke'a'vanim Ba'mid'bar" or "Like Grapes in the Desert". It's like finding something important in a place where one has no hope of finding it. This is probably where the saying "It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack " comes from.
Timeline: Hosea lived about 2835 years ago in the Jewish year 3142.
Map: The Northern Kingdom of Israel
Learn with the Haftorahman. One on One or in a group. If you and/or a friend are interested, please contact me to arrange for a weekly class in order to learn more about the biblical prophets and other subjects related to Judaism.
As told by: Reuven Gavriel ben Nissim Ebrahimoff
dedicated in loving memory of Mr. Avraham ben Yitzchak Isaac Schwerd
Shema Yisrael Torah Network