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

Two Jerusalems

Two Jerusalems? No, I’m not talking about East and West Jerusalem, but about a word of hope embedded in the very spelling of the city—hope that we can use as we think about Jerusalem today. The Hebrew name of the holy city is Yerushalayim. This spelling includes two yods—the Hebrew equivalent of the English Y… Continue reading Two Jerusalems

Irreplaceable Israel

We’re in the middle of Elul, the sixth month, which means we’re in the middle of a prayer focus on protection and restoration for the land and people of Israel. The two prayer themes of protection and restoration or return (teshuvah in Hebrew, which also means repentance), are linked in Scripture, as in our theme… Continue reading Irreplaceable Israel

the Hineni hint

We’re in the middle of seven haftarot of consolation, seven readings from Isaiah that take us from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah. The haftarah for this week is Isaiah 51:12–52:12 and the haftarah for next week is Isaiah 54:1–10, so it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to skip right over Isaiah 53 (which begins at… Continue reading the Hineni hint