The Haftorah is from Yeshayahu. The reading begins with the complaint of G-d against our nation for not doing the services we ought to have been doing for Him. Verse 23: You did not bring me a lamb…
Did the Jews really not do the service in the Temple? We know that even as they sinned, the services and sacrifices continued. So what is the complaint here?
We are told by G-d, “Torahsee al ta’azohvoo – don’t leave My Torah.” Really that sentence should read, Torah Al Ta’azohvoo – don’t leave Torah. What is the emphasis on the word MY that is placed before Torah.
Many folks go ahead and try to tailor Torah to their own ridiculous desires. Snip it, pinch it, sew it up and use it for their own motives. When folks brought a sin-offering from stolen goods, was it a sin-offering to G-d…or them just being “frum”, doing as the neighbors did? If we go to synagogue and pray, but don’t mean it, and do it for the social aspect of keeping up with the Schwartz’s, are we praying to G-d? If we keep Shabbos just because in our neighborhood that is the thing to do, with no thought of keeping Shabbos to proclaim G-d’s Creation of the world, is Shabbos about G-d or about our children finding a great playdate? The lament of G-d is that the Karbanos were not brought for HIM.
That is why we were thrust into exile. And that bitter, long exile will end well, eventually. Our Haftorah continues with the assurance that Hashem will open gates of knowledge of awareness and pour it into the world. Like water being poured to those parched with thirst, Hashem will ensure that everyone (even those logging in remotely to this website) will have access to pure Torah learning. When that happens, the Haftorah continues, “This one will say, I am for Hashem; and this one will call in the name of Yaakov, and this one will write on his hand ‘for Hashem’ and in the name of Israel they will take on.”
RASHI (quoting from Avoth d’Rabbi Nathan): the first person is the righteous, the second are those who are the sons of the wicked, the third are the wicked repenting and the fourth and the righteous converts.
An interesting side note, folks – there are four types of people listed in this Passuk in the Haftorah. Remind you of the four sons at the Pesach Seder? Professor Herman Branover who is the founder of the field of science called magneto-hydrodynamics was a famous Russian refusenik who found his way to G-d and observance in Soviet Russia. He wanted to see scientifically how long Jewish identity could last without Torah observance. His result is startling. It is four generations. Anyone who knows that he/she is Jewish, must have had a sincerely religious ancestor at max four generations up. That is the four sons of the Haggada. Chacham – the wise generation who kept Mitzvos, vibrantly attached to G-d awareness. Then came the Rasha – the wicked sons who turned from G-d. They are followed by the Tam – a generation who has no clue what it means to be Jewish (bagels for breakfast on Sunday type of Jews). The last generation doesn’t even know who they are – they cannot even ask about their identity and marry out. There is no next generation, unfortunately.
We are reassured in this week’s Haftorah that there will be a reversal of that when Moshiach comes. There will be converts walking in our doors, there will be repentant sinners, there will be children of those sinners who bring their fathers back into the fold. And, yes, there will always be, there always has been, the proud Jews who never lost their way. May we merit to be in that category.