After the Torah reading each week, we read the “haftorah” which is either from the Prophets or from the Kesuvim. The selection usually connects either with the Torah reading or with the time of the year that it happens to be. This week, the Torah reading is about the story of the spies in the times of Moshe. The Haftorah is the story of the spies in the times of Yehoshua. Kinda of like a story of two ways to do something, the wrong way and the right way.
The story of Rachav now unfolds. She was a courtesan to put it politely – but more practically she was a “zonah” a woman of the night. Her home was built into the city fortress so that folks could come from outside the city walls and visit her without anyone knowing they did so. With such a great real estate locale, she ended up being able to hide the Jewish spies when Yehoshua sent them to Israel. And, she is also able to help them escape. In exchange they promise that they will spare her and anyone she decides to shelter when the Jews will conquer the land. Deal sealed — Rachav brought out a heavy rope and, using the rope, the men eased themselves off the roof and out of the city walls. That wasn’t so pleasant for their hands (yup, rope burn).
When the Jews arrive in Israel, Rachav is saved, converts and eventually marries Yehoshua. The power of transformation – anyone, in Judaism, can become as great as anyone else. A person can start off a prostitute and end up the Rebbetzin. Decades of great men descend from this woman, men who knew how to cleave to G-d and choose difficult spiritual tasks rather than comfortable existence. They learned it from their great-grandmother.
One of her descendants was Yirmiyahu the Prophet. His task: to alert the Jews that unless they repented from their back-sliding ways, they’d be punished. The reception to such news — not that enthusiastic. In fact, at one point, folks tried killing the messenger rather than hear the message of G-d. They grabbed Yirmiyahoo and threw him into a muddy pit figuring he’d eventually drown in the muck. G-d had better plans for His prophet, and so, G-d had a passerby hear the struggles and lower a rope to rescue Yirmiyahu. From the depths of the mire, Yirmiyahu had to clamber up the rope – not so pleasant to his hands (rope burn). And so he is puzzled and asks, “G-d, I know it was You who saved me, but why did You have to make it hard – why not send a rescuer with a ladder which would be way more pleasant?” And G-d explained- ‘hey there, buddy, didn’t your grandmother do the rescuing with a rope? Well, then it is only a rope that you deserve.’ We have to remember when we do things to do it with our utmost for everything we do comes back, either to us or to our great grandchildren.
Will our future generations be putting up with rope burn because we didn’t go the extra mile?