There are two outstanding Haftorahs that have not just impacted my life, but I believe they actually speak directly to us if we only let them.

The Haftorahs are more than just addendums to one’s bar mitzvah parashah reading—assuming the bar mitzvah boy has the wherewithal and stamina to stick with his so-called “personal parashah” that became his by the seemingly random occurrence of his birth.

I was born on the day after Tishah B’Av.

That always meant a few things to me. Some of them my mom used to always remind me of and some of them I figured out on my own, usually after thinking about them for a long time…let’s just say after many years. One of them is how hot it was that summer, but then again, it’s usually hot most summers.

I enjoyed learning and studying the singsong cantillations of the parashah, and after a few lessons with my bar mitzvah teacher, I somehow got into the melodious groove that navigated me through my parashah reading. It was Shabbos Nachamu, which has always been one of the high points, even celebratory Shabbos weekends, of our annual calendar.

The other Haftorah that has attached itself closely to me all these years is actually read twice a year. There are very few Haftorahs that have that distinction. This Haftorah was read last week as the addendum to Parashas Beha’alotecha, and is also the Haftorah read on Shabbos Chanukah, the Shabbos on which I mark my father’s yahrzeit.

Last year was my father’s 34th yahrzeit. When I hear this Haftorah as we did the other day, it reminds me that another half year has gone by and there is still another six months to go until his 35th yahrzeit. I don’t know if it’s just me, but that is a fairly long stretch of time.

The text of the Haftorah is—as they almost always are—very timely and prophetic of the times we are currently experiencing. The Haftorah is the vision of the Prophet Zechariah, and discusses the Menorah as it will appear in the third Beis HaMikdash, which will be incorporated into the Jewish people’s reality with the advent and coming of Moshiach, may it happen soon.

The Prophet says in part, “…then the angel that spoke with me returned and roused me, like a man woken from a sleep. ‘What do you see in your prophetic vision?’ he asked me. “I said, ‘I see a Menorah made entirely of gold with a bowl on its top (containing oil).’”

The prophet inquires further of the angel, asking him what he sees in his vision and what it is supposed to represent.

The angel responds: “This is the word of G-d about Moshiach, a descendant of Zerubavel…Not by his might and not by his power will the nations become subservient to Moshiach. But rather it will be effortless, like the kindling of a Menorah through My spirit by which I will subdue the nations,” says Hashem.

The other Haftorah, from my bar mitzvah parashah, which as you know follows you throughout life, is about Hashem comforting the Jewish people after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami,” it says. “Be comforted, be comforted, my people. May you bring solace to others through your words and deeds. May the voice and acts of others—and Hashem—bring you to a place of peace.”

As you are aware, the reading of this Haftorah comes in the immediate aftermath of Tishah B’Av, the Nine Days and the Three Weeks, which is a period of mourning in our calendar since time immemorial.

The last few lines of last week’s Haftorah jumped off the page when I read that the victory of the Jewish people against our enemies will occur with the ease of lighting a Menorah. You are aware, of course, of the quiet gracefulness in lighting a flame, whether on our Chanukah Menorah or in lighting Shabbos candles.

Ever since the vicious assault of October 7th on southern Israel, there has not been too much quiet gracefulness as the IDF seeks to eliminate Hamas from the face of the earth.  And the same is true up north at the Lebanese border, where Hezbollah rockets that have permeated the Iron Dome have on occasion injured and killed people, and in some instances set forest fires and fires in other areas. Today, more than 80,000 residents of Northern Israel have fled their homes and are living temporarily in other parts of the country.

But in between our two Haftorahs that we are focused on in this essay, there are some glimmers of hope as we move in the direction, slowly but surely, to Shabbos Nachamu, and our strong need for comfort coming up in mid-August.

Over last weekend, when it seemed that the northern front was about to explode against Hezbollah, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France and several of her allies would be willing to send their military to push Hezbollah forces 10 km (6 miles) from the Israeli border, while Israel would halt strikes in southern Lebanon. Since 2006, the Shia Islamist Hezbollah with ties to Iran has amassed a formidable arsenal, and the resulting clashes with Israel since October have displaced thousands of people from the north.

I don’t believe it will come to fruition, but can you imagine French forces stepping in and fighting the terrorists of Hezbollah along with the Lebanese Armed Forces, trying to keep them separated from Israel so that the country of Lebanon—half of which oppose Hezbollah—can be spared the forces of the IDF defending its citizens?

It would be a quirk to have the French forces doing battle with Hezbollah, almost tantamount to a virtual Lebanese civil war as each side battles to keep Israel from properly defending itself by paralyzing and destroying key parts of Lebanon.

And it’s all there somewhere inside and in between my two personal Haftorahs.

The U.S. has already said that they will not be able to support Israel in a conflagration with Hezbollah. Perhaps the U.S. was already clued in to the French plan. The only unknown here is how the French will fare fighting the vicious terror merchants in Lebanon.

This has been a difficult time for Israel, and indeed for Jews all over the world. Too many young men and women have lost their lives in the ongoing battles in the north and south. Fathers, brothers, spouses, and children have lost their lives fighting an implacable enemy of Israel and the Jewish people. Families have been disrupted. Too many have sat shivah and are now saying Kaddish.

Through it all, we have witnessed the incomparable courage on the part of our young people. The answer to this real-life puzzle is sandwiched somewhere between my two personal Haftorahs. And that is the need to defeat our enemies with the ease of lighting a flame on the Menorah all the way to the mid-summer of Nachamu, Nachamu Ami…  n

 

Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

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