THE SHIRLEY AND JACOB FUCHSBERG JERUSALEM CENTER of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Haftarah Parshat Ki Tetzei (Isaiah 54:1-10) September 2, 2017 / 11 Elul 5777 Abraham and Sarah were promised both progeny and a land in which to fulfill this promise. Reality got in the way time and time again. The patriarchal couple were faced with infertility and their grasp on the land was always fragile. This story repeated itself often: Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, Hannah – the mother of the prophet Samuel. Infertility was a constant test of faith in God’s promises. Ultimately God came through and fulfilled His promises. This week’s haftarah, the fifth of the seven haftarot of consolation following Tisha b’Av (Shiva d’nehamta), exercises this theme on the national level. Jerusalem has suffered the exile of her children at the hands of the Babylonians. She is empty and barren, without hope. The national hold on its territory is tenuous. She is envisioned tragically as an unfulfilled mother, abandoned and alone. At once, at divine behest, she is transformed into a mother whose household is bursting at the seams with children, stretching her capacity to contain them, fulfilling divine promises harkening back all the way to the patriarchs: “’Shout O barren one, you who bore no child! Shout for joy, you who did not travail! For the children of the wife forlorn shall outnumber those of the espoused’, said the Lord. ‘Enlarge the site of your tent, extend the size of your dwelling, do not stint!...” (54:1-2) Despair is a paralyzing emotion. It creates only darkness. Even when the situation is bleak. Hope is the only lifegiving alternative. This is what faith is all about. This was the prophet’s message to a forlorn nation which could only see “no” as the answer. The following midrash captures a faith affirming response: “Rabbi Levi said: ‘Wherever Scripture says something negative, [ultimately] the opposite will be the case. It says that ‘Sarah was barren, she did not have a child’ (Genesis 11:30) and afterwards, she had one, ‘Sarah is suckling sons’ (Genesis 21:7). Similarly, ‘Peninah had children, but Hannah had no children’ (1 Samuel 1:2); afterwards, Hannah did have children: ‘The Lord remembered Hannah, and she conceived.’ (1 Samuel 2:21) [Finally], ‘Zion, there is no one to care for her.’ (Jeremiah 30:17) And then there was: ‘And a redeemer will come to Zion’ (Isaiah 59:20)” (Pesikta d’Rav Kahana 18:3, Mandelbaum ed. p. 295) In real life, there are no guarantees. One cannot always depend on the happy outcome. Still, without the possibility of hope, life cannot continue. The battle is over. Judaism takes ownership over hope. Hope is faith and faith is hope. And that is the most redemptive of messages. About This Commentary This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem offers students of all backgrounds the skills for studying Jewish texts. We are a vibrant, open-minded egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn, practice and grow together. Our goal is to provide students the ability and desire to continue Jewish learning and practice throughout their lives. Rashei Yeshiva: Rabbi Joel Levy & Dr. Joshua Kulp. Rabbi Joel Roth, Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus. Sponsors - The Conservative Yeshiva would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Haftarah Commentary: Underwriters: Rabbi Michael and Erica Schwab. Special Friends: Rabbi Ron Androphy, Rabbi Jeffrey and Tami Arnowitz, Rabbi Martin Flax, Rabbi Barry Dov Katz, Rabbi Ben Kramer, Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, Rabbi Robert Pilavin, Rabbi Micah Peltz, Rabbi David Rosen. Friends: Aaron Dworin, Rabbi Robert Eisen, Rabbi Jay Goldstein, Rabbi Rafi Kanter, Rabbi Dennis Linson, Rabbi Mark Mallach, Rabbi Marvin Richardson z"l, Rabbi Joel Roth, Rabbi Ronald Roth, Rabbi Neil Sandler, Rabbi David C. Seed, Mel F. Seidenberg in honor of his grandchildren and two great grandsons, Rabbi Ari Sunshine. Rabbi Ed Romm on behalf of the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center http://www.uscj.org.il [log in to unmask] ------------------------------------------------------------ To UNSUBSCRIBE from this listserv, simply go to http://uscj.org/archives/HAFTARAH.html or send a message to [log in to unmask] that reads: unsubscribe HAFTARAH ------------------------------------------------------------ This e-mailing list is hosted by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), 820 Second Ave., NYC NY 10017.