This week’s Haftorah begins with the prophetic revelation of Yeshayahu, and describes his vision of the manifestation of Hashem and of the angels singing praises to G-d.
Verse 3: and one [Seraph/angel] would call out, this one to the other one, and say “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh Hashem Tziva-kos…Sanctified, Sanctified, Sanctified is G-d…” Why must they call out one to the other? RASHI explains “Notlin reshus zeh l’zeh…they give each other permission…sheloh yakdim ha’echad…that no one precedes the other in praising G-d, but rather they say G-d’s praises in unison.”
Think music or dance. When the players know to wait for cues, to wait until all are in place and ready to play at the same time, that is when they can create a masterpiece musical symphony or breathtaking choreographed dance.
That is a parable to our world. Many of us get so caught up in trying to express our own agenda and exhibitionism, we forget how to interact with the rest of our nation in a way that glorifies us and our Creator. This Haftorah is read attached to the Parsha that recounts the giving of Torah on Sinai. In the Parsha we read, [19:2] “Va’yeechan Sham Yisrael Neged Hahar…And Israel camped there facing the mountain” RASHI: “K’ish Echad B’lev Echad – Like one man with one heart.”
Now, before you think this message means we cannot be unique, we go backwards a verse or two where it talks of these angels’ forms. Yeshayahoo sees them as having six wings. Two are used to cover their face so as not to gaze blatantly at their Creator. Two are used to cover their feet out of a sense of modesty and out of love for the Jewish people so as not to highlight a resemblance to the Golden Calf. Two of the wings are used to fly, soar about and get places. And the last two wings of each angel, as expounds Rashi, are used to do its unique mission. Each angel accomplishes great things, goes about and does G-d’s calling. Each one has a separate mission. (Ah, we go back to the feminist’s mistake – equal does not mean same. It means equally valued but with different missions.)
Yet, each mission of each angel is centered around one central goal, to be a part and parcel of a comprehensive universal concerto for G-d. I think we’ve discussed this in past posts, but it is worth understanding again. Orchestras have many different instruments, but they ought to be playing the same tune, to the same tempo, to be at its best. Or, better yet, let’s look at Rashi’s explanation of how unified we were at the giving of the Torah – like one body. The body has toes and ears. Different appendages. Yet, in a healthy person, the body parts interact together, has one purpose and goal which allows the person functioning ability. When one body part “disconnects” from the others, that is disease and breakdown.
Yah, we all have unique missions and unique aspects to us. However, we have to figure out where our uniqueness blends in, melds and harmonizes with everyone else in our vast universe so that we can all be part of G-d’s symphony. It is the matter of focus. Achdus, Jewish unity, it is so necessary, my friends.
So let us call, one to the other, and ask our friends to join in TOGETHER, not a beat behind, not a beat in front, but in complete synchrony within our efforts to give G-d praise.
But…but..I hear some people splutter…but others might not want to join in. We, therefore, turn to the Haftorah again and see Yeshayahoo’s response to this vision he has seen. He laments, [verse 5] “Oy lee…kee ish t’may sifasayim anochee oo’besoch ahm t’may sifasayim anochee yoh’shayv – woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and in the midst of a nation of unclean lips I dwell…” The prophet thinks the revelation he saw of heavenly angels serving G-d right could not apply to mankind, for there is no man who has not sinned, even the great prophet. And, so he says, ‘how can I sing praises to G-d with my deficiencies and my being surrounded with deficient fellow Jews?’ The answer given to Isaiah is an act committed against him and not a word explanation. An angel takes a coal from atop the Mizbayach [Altar] and touches his lips. The angel then tells Yeshayhaoo [verse 6] “behold this has touched your lips and removed your sin…”
The coal, we are told, did not burn the prophet. What then is being done here? You gotta have a “bren” a burning desire to want to praise and exalt G-d. You have to be so motivated that the words burst forth, with no holding back. The glowing coal of the Altar – what was the Altar if not a place where all physicality was channeled and focused toward G-d. When you get to that place emotionally and spirituality within yourself, the words and desire to serve G-d bubbles out somehow. That burning desire is imprinted by the angel onto Yeshayahu’s mouth. Which is why, just a verse later, when G-d asks for someone to do His calling, the prophet doesn’t hold back [verse 8] “Hinenee, Sh’luchaynee – here I am; send me [to talk to the Jews]…”
My blessing to all of us today is to merit to be “touched” with burning coals from the Altar, to get to that heightened sense of spirituality where we feel able to burst forth and call out to our fellow Jew, won’t you join me in singing praises to G-d!
Music postcript on this post…There is a famous Chassidic story about the story of one ignoramus who felt that “bren” one Yom Kippur and wanted to be part of our nation’s prayers, and burst out with no holding back with simple words he was familiar with instead of the formal prayers. In some versions of the story, you have a little boy playing his whistle as his contribution. In another version, one man screamed out kukuriku. And, with a twist on this story, 8th Day sings of that desire within each of us, trying to connect and say the kukuriku, trying to pray along with our nation but with the words we know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ2IHqikU4E