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The Haftarah for Parashat Vayeishev
The Prediction of Edom's Downfall
SelecteBnai Yisrael (The Nation of Israel) is urged to listen to the Prophets.
We read the Haftorah from the Book of Amos.
The Book of Amos is the third in the order of the Trai Assar or The Twelve Prophets, and first chronologically.
The Haftorah is read from Chapters 2:6-3:8
The Story of This Week's Haftorah: The Haftorah opens with words regarding the Sins of the Ten Tribes. They had four sins that Hashem was unhappy with. 1st Idolatry, 2nd Immorality, 3rd Bloodshed and last the Israelite Judges could be bribed. The first three, Hashem was willing to forgive his nation for but the fourth Hashem wasn't willing to forgive. An honest man must be entitled to a fair trial and if human beings are going to "play G-d" with other peoples lives, they better be honest. The Haftorah continues with the fact that Jews must be holy, if not they will be punished and tragedies will befall the Jews. "Use it or lose it." Hashem has given us the power to choose. We can either use Judaism as a way of life or not. Do we take advantage of this opportunity? Or do we act like Judaism is a burden? Then we are taught a lesson by the prophet Amos. We learn about the Emorite nation's past. Even though they were the strongest of Israelís seven enemy nations, Hashem easily destroyed them because of their abominable ways. We should always remember that Hashem is watching over us and he is ready to reward or punish us. The Haftorah discusses why Hashem deals with the Jews strictly. It's because he really does loves us and he cares enough about us, to punish us for our sins. This enables us to reflect, do teshuvah and in turn improve ourselves as much as possible. The Jews are urged to take the words of the prophet seriously because those words are, Hashem's future plans and they will one day come true. These words are not some ideas the prophets came up with. These are the words that were communicated by Hashem to the prophet. Amos goes on to tell us that the prophets have secret knowledge. Hashem does not do anything without first revealing his secret plans to his servants.
The Connection of the Haftarah to the Parasha: In this weeks Haftorahs opening verses the prophet Amos accuses certain Jews of having sold the Tzadik (a righteous person) for money and the poor man for shoes. The Parasha acknowledges that Yakov's sons sold Joseph, the Tzadik, into slavery and used the money to buy them self's shoes.
The moral of the Haftorah: It is human nature to minimize our sins. A little Lashon Hara, it's not so bad. "I didn't observe the laws of Shabbat as much as I could have, no big deal". "I didn't make a blessing on the food that wasn't so kosher anyway, nothing will happen to me". Right. Wrong. Just because Hashem doesn't "pull us over" and write us a spiritual speeding ticket every time we zoom by his radar detector, it doesn't mean that Hashem hasn't recorded our violations. Before you chose to do a mitzvah or averah (Good deed or sin) ask yourself is it worth it? Ignoring your sins doesn't make them go away.
Biography of the Prophet Amos: Amos' name is derived from Hebrew and could mean either "Burden" or "Bearer of Burden". Amos was born in the mountain top city of Tekoa in Land of Judah where he prophesied from 765 to 750 B.C. Amos might have been the earliest of the "Trai Assar". Like all prophets he was wealthy. Amos was a herdsman and also owned sycamore trees. He lived in time of Uzziah, King of Judah and the prophets Hosea, Isaiah and Michah. Amos stuttered. : 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.
Timeline: The Haftorah took place about 2750 years ago. Just before the 10 Northern tribes were exiled from their homeland by the Assyrians. Which eventually preceded the destruction of the Holy Temple 2588 years ago?
Map: The Haftorah takes place in Northern Israel.
Written by: The Haftorahman - Reuven Gavriel ben Nissim Ebrahimoff 5762-2001
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