Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Haftorah Beam - Shabbat Hanukkah

This past week's Torah portion was Parshat Miketz, but the usual Haftorah portion is substituted with a special reading for Hanukkah.

In this reading, the prophet Zechariah heralds the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, recounting a vision of the ordination of Joshua, the first High Priest who would serve in the Second Temple, as well as the grander vision of an age which shall be ruled, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit — said the LORD of hosts."

This age is symbolized by the Hanukkah menorah -- the triumph of light over darkness, of a small band of believers against an empire dedicated to self-gratification:
Chapter 41 The angel who taked with me came back and woke me as a man is wakened from sleep. 2 He said to me, "What do you see?" And I answered, "I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes; 3 and by it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one on its left."
This theme is also reflected in the earlier section of the Haftorah reading, where Joshua is called forth to serve in the Temple:

Satan was seeking to incriminate Joshua, the first High Priest to serve in the Second Temple, because of the "soiled garments" (i.e. sins) he was wearing. G‑d himself defends the High Priest: "And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord shall rebuke you, O Satan; the Lord who chose Jerusalem shall rebuke you. Is [Joshua] not a brand plucked from fire?" I.e., how dare Satan prosecute an individual who endured the hardships of exile? "And He raised His voice and said to those standing before him, saying, 'Take the filthy garments off him.' And He said to him, 'See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I have clad you with clean garments.'"
This expression, אוּד, מֻצָּל מֵאֵשׁ is an apt metaphor for oppressed and marginalized people, who are clothed in "filthy garments" - poverty, disability, discrimination and so on. Just as the Jewish people are "a brand plucked (literally, 'rescued') from the fire" throughout history, so we are called upon to see beyond Satan's "filthy garments" and rescue these brands from the fires of their oppression.

ז  מִי-אַתָּה הַר-הַגָּדוֹל לִפְנֵי זְרֻבָּבֶל, לְמִישֹׁר; וְהוֹצִיא, אֶת-הָאֶבֶן הָרֹאשָׁה--תְּשֻׁאוֹת, חֵן חֵן לָהּ. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? Thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of Grace, grace, unto it.' 


י  בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, נְאֻם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, תִּקְרְאוּ, אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ--אֶל-תַּחַת גֶּפֶן, וְאֶל-תַּחַת תְּאֵנָה.10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree.
Happy Hanukkah!

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