Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 for 21: Torah Connection - Bereishit

Yesterday we read from Bereishit -- the first chapter of the book of Genesis.  It starts with the creation of the cosmos and ends with the genealogy of Noach, and G*d's frustration with the decadence of humanity.

The haftorah portion for this week is from Isaiah, and expands on Israel's role and mission in the world.

First, the link to the Torah portion, G*d as the Creator:

5 Thus said God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and what it brings forth,
Who gave breath to the people upon it
And life to those who walk thereon:

And here is Israel's assignment, the true meaning of being "Chosen":

6 I the Lord, in My grace, have summoned you,
And I have grasped you by the hand.
I created you, and appointed you
A covenant people, a light of nations —
7 Opening eyes deprived of light,
Rescuing prisoners from confinement,
From the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
 After several verses extolling G*d and Creation, we get to this:

13 The Lord goes forth like a warrior,
Like a fighter He whips up His rage.
He yells, He roars aloud,
He charges upon His enemies.
"I have kept silent far too long,
Kept still and restrained Myself;
Now I will scream like a woman in labor,
I will pant and I will gasp.

I love the role of G*d (and by extension, Israel) in fighting injustice both from the masculine and feminine perspective here. The reading continues with an elaboration on G*d's powers, building up to this guarantee of divine protection:

16 I will lead the blind
By a road they did not know,
And I will make them walk
By paths they never knew.
I will turn darkness before them to light,
Rough places into level ground.
These are the promises —
I will keep them without fail.

These are not promises to make our challenges easy -- just to make them possible.

The "short version" of the haftorah pretty much ends there.  The long version continues, and ends with this explanation of the People of Israel as exemplifying proof of G*d's existence to the nations of the world.

9 All the nations assemble as one,
The peoples gather.
Who among them declared this,
Foretold to us the things that have happened?
Let them produce their witnesses and be vindicated,
That men, hearing them, may say, "It is true!"
My witnesses are you
—declares the Lord—
My servant, whom I have chosen.
To the end that you may take thought,
And believe in Me,
And understand that I am He:
Before Me no god was formed,
And after Me none shall exist —
 The bolded section here is often misread in Christianity as referring to Jesus.  Rather, it is the People of Israel who are the chosen servant.  It is the task of every Jew to be a Light Onto the Nations, and to create a community that manifests G*d's glory.

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