This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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That which has long been foretold is finally coming to pass.

For years the prophets have been remonstrating the people, warning them that if they do not change their ways, the Temple will be destroyed and the people will be sent into exile. The people have scoffed at the prophets, mocking them and proclaiming loudly that never would they be forced to forfeit their land.

But now the Jews can no longer ignore what is taking place before their eyes. "The beseigers' ramps have reached the city"--Jeremiah cries in our haftorah--"and the city is being delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans."

In the face of all this, Jeremiah offers a prayer before Hashem. And he prefaces his prayer with an expression of that which the people finally understand now, with the beseigers' ramps at the city gates.

"O Hashem ... Great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes look upon all the ways of humankind, to repay each man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his actions."

Here, writes Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe in his book Alei Shur (Volume II), is the essential point that Jeremiah must teach. It is not sufficient to recognize that there is a metaphysical being up there who looks down on the world. The people had always realized that, and yet it didn't stop them from their misdeeds.

No: our perception must go beyond that. No only does Hashem "look upon the ways of humankind," but He is also intimately involved with the doings of the world. And each action that we do has an impact on the way that Hasehm Himself deals with His world: "Whose eyes look down upon the ways of mankind, to repay each man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his actions."

That message, if it hits home, has the ability to prod us into changing our way of living.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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