God in Exile

Seventh Haftarah of Comfort, Isaiah 61:10–63:9 At the great turning-point of Moses’ life—which was also a great turning point for the entire nation of Israel languishing in Egyptian captivity—God chose to speak to Moses from out of a thorn-bush of all places. Why not from the wide blue sky, or the starry heavens at night,… Continue reading God in Exile

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The All-Israel Alignment

Sixth Haftarah of Comfort, Isaiah 60:1-22 All Israel will be saved. Romans 11:26 Isaiah has provided many images and metaphors of Israel’s restoration throughout the Haftarot of Comfort—return from exile, flowering of the Land of Israel, rebuilding of her cities, tribute and honor coming from the surrounding nations. Now, toward the end of these readings,… Continue reading The All-Israel Alignment

The Waters Meet Their Limit

Fifth Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 54:1–10 For this is like the waters of Noah to Me: for as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more cover the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. Though the mountains depart and the hills… Continue reading The Waters Meet Their Limit

Antidote to Anxiety

Fourth Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 51:12–52:12 Hashem is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Hashem is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 When I was in elementary school we had random air-raid drills from time to time. We’d be in the middle of class and… Continue reading Antidote to Anxiety

Stretch Out Your Tent

Third Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 54:11–55:5 Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die.” Gen. 30:1 The Lord comforts Zion in her affliction with a transcendent vision of restoration: “I will lay your foundations with sapphires, and make . . . all your walls of precious stones” (Is. 54:11–12). And then the… Continue reading Stretch Out Your Tent

Comfort for a Traumatized Age

Second Haftarah of Comfort: Isaiah 49:14-51:3 The seven weeks of comfort or consolation following Tisha b’Av are especially relevant to the traumatized age in which we live. Like the Jewish generations that witnessed or lived shortly after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple on Tisha b’Av, we live in the shadow of unspeakable loss in… Continue reading Comfort for a Traumatized Age

Seedbed of Hope

The Jewish religious year is unflinchingly hope-filled. I almost wrote “unflinchingly optimistic,” but that doesn’t quite get it. Optimism believes everything is going to turn out all right, but the prophets often give us a picture of things that don’t turn out all right, at least in the short term. Hope looks at the disappointments… Continue reading Seedbed of Hope