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The Haftarah for Parashat Vayishlach
The Prediction of Edom's Downfall
Selected From the Book of Ovadia, which is part of the Book called Trai Assar or Twelve Prophets.
The Structure of the Book of Hosea:
The Story of This Weeks Haftorah: Ovadia has a prophecy against Israel's enemy Edom. He predicts that the nations of the world will proclaim war against Edom. Because of Edom's arrogance it will eventually suffer humiliation, as Hashem will humble Edom. Eventually Edom's enemies will deceive her, plunder her and rob her. It will be trapped into going to war, which it will lose. Edom's land will become desolate, because she opposed Jacob. Edom mistreats its brother nation, Israel. Due to Edom's sins its ultimate punishment will be retribution. Edom will be repaid measure for measure for tormenting Israel. Finally the Jewish nation will be redeemed. Ovadia speaks of the nation of Israel's survival and future conquests. Israel's exiles will return and its' future borders will be restored. Hashem's kingdom will be established forever.
The Connection of the Haftarah to the Parasha: In the Parasha, Yaakov was left wounded and limping as a result of his confrontation with this brother Aisav's Guardian Angel. Similarly Aisav's descendants (The Edomites) would torture and hurt our nation both in body and spirit. However, just as Yaakov emerged perfect from the event, so will the Jewish people.
Haftorahman's Lesson for Parasha Vayishlach: The prophet Ovadia sets an example for all Jews. Even though he wasn't born a Jew and he worked for the evil Royal couple (King Achav and Queen Jezebel), it would have been natural for him to be influenced by his surroundings. However, he chose not to live his life blaming things on where he came from, or who surrounded him as a reason for not getting closer to Hashem and doing good deeds. Ovadia demonstrated that whatever the circumstances, every person has the power to have a " vision" of what's spiritually possible for themselves and other fellow Jews. He chose to convert. Then he chose to spend his fortune on supporting the only 100 remaining men that kept alive the Torah as observant Jews. How many times do we tolerate spiritual mediocrity for ourselves? We should stop and think, " Why does it have to be that way?" Ovadia wasn't limited by the past, why should we be? So what If I or others didn't come from a religious background, "I can learn to read Hebrew; I can say a blessing before I eat food; I can keep kosher; I can put on tefillin in the morning; I can go to Services; I can stop speaking Lashon Hara (slander); I can become Shomer Shabbat; I can say Shema Yisrael before I go to sleep; I can go to a Shiur to learn this week's Parasha (P.S. if you have read this far, you already are learning Torah, so give yourself a little credit and keep going). This week make up your mind that you will pick a Mitzvah to work on with the purpose of building your relationship with Hashem.
The Prophet Ovadia's Biography: His name means "worshipper" or "Servant of G-d". He wasn't Jewish by birth. He was a ger or convert from Edom, descendents of Esav. Ovadia wrote his own book, which is the shortest book in the Tanach. It's only one chapter long, consisting of just 21 sentences. Ovadia lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was a very G-d fearing man. Ovadia belonged to the court of the evil King Achav and Queen Jezebel who ruled over Israel or the ten northern tribes called Samaria. King Achav and Queen Jezebel brought in Phoenician Idols in order to worship Paganism. They wanted to destroy the prophets of Israel. Ovadia risked his life to save the prophets. Ovadia took 50 prophets and placed them in one cave and then he placed 50 more prophets and placed them into another cave to protect them. (Lesson: Don't put all your eggs in one basket). Therefore, he merited the ability to experience prophecy. Ovadia preserved the hidden prophets by paying for their food and oil (for light) with his own money. When he started to do this he was very rich. However, he eventually went into debt by borrowing money from the Royal family. Ovadia died young. He left a widow with debts to pay and two children. Elisha the prophet helped her when he made a miracle happen. He asked her to pour the single drop of oil she had left into many empty barrels. Miraculously they got filled up and she was able to pay her debts off and lived off of the remaining oil. We learn from this miracle that we must leave a piece of bread on the table when saying Birkat Hamazon or Grace After Meals. Why? Only Hashem can create something from nothing. So that when Elisha made a miracle happen of abundance, it was from a drop of oil, or "something". The same goes for the bread. We want our physical blessings to increase, so we start with something and we pray that it will be increased.
Famous Pesukim from the Book of Ovadia: Chapter 1:1-21 Ve'alu mosheim behar tzion lishpot et har esav v'hayetah Hashem hamlucha. "And saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Sea and the Kingdom will be Hashem's" Said on Shabbat just after Az Yashir and just before Nishmat Kol Chai.
Timeline: This Haftorah happened about 2500 years ago. This took place after the time that the state of Israel split into two, and before the destruction of the 1st Beit Hamikdash. Eliyahu Ha'navi was alive at that time.
Map: This Haftarah takes place in Northern 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 by the Ebrahimoff family in memory of my father, Nissim ben Reuven Ebrahimoff, whose Hazkara/Yahrzeit is observed this week. May his neshama have an aliya.
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