Thoughts and Teachings: Haftarah for Ki Teitzei

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19.[i] This passage covers a whole variety of issues dealing with social justice and concerns, marital and family relationships, and much more. It would be good, as you read through this passage to look not only at what is written but at the principles behind the written word, remembering that

All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed. (2 Timothy 3.16-17)

Sometimes we look at the various commands in Scripture and determine that what is being said has no relevance for us today. If this is true, then the words of Rav Shaul are incorrect and all Scripture is not useful for teaching. However, the words of Shaul are true; we just need to find out what it is that the LORD is trying to convey to us in our day and age and in our individual communities.

The Haftarah is found in Isaiah 54:1 – 55:5 and is the fifth in the haftaroth of consolations between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. As stated above all Scripture is useful… and assumedly should therefore be read as a whole. Since we are still in the consolation period, it is good to remember the word of the LORD through Balaam to Balak,

God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it? (Numbers 23.19)

With that assurance in mind, we read the LORD’s statement to disciplined Israel

“For a brief moment I deserted you, but I will regather you with great compassion. In a surge of anger, I hid My face from you a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says Adonaiyour Redeemer. (Isaiah 54.7-8)

“For a brief moment” LORD, You have got to be kidding! From the beginning of the second exile to the reestablishment of the State of Israel was almost two millennia. Radak[ii] comments, “Even though the millennia of exile are much more that ‘but a brief moment,’ they are insignificant compared to the abundant mercy with which He will gather you in, with all its attendant good.”[iii] As humans, we are currently confined to time, but the Creator of the Universe is outside the confines of time, thus validating what the Psalmist said, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day just passing by, or like a watch in the night,” (Psalm 90.4, cf. 2 Peter 3.8). The assurance here is not based upon our times but on Adonai’s eternity. Remember the words of Yeshua to His disciples at His ascension when they asked whether He would now reestablish the kingdom of Israel, “It is not your place to know the times or seasons which the Father has placed under His own control” (Acts 1.7). This response does not sit well with our desire to know and to be able to understand things that affect us. The prophet Jeremiah recorded the LORD’s response to our dilemma when he wrote, “For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29.11).

It is not our “knowing” that is important to the LORD, it is our obedience to His word.

Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, so that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the trustworthy loyalty to David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. (Isaiah 55.3-4)

Listen to His word and do what He says, even if it does not make sense. The writer of Mishlei encourages us to

Trust in Adonai with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear Adonai and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3.5-8)

We do not “need to understand” or to depend upon our own wisdom. We simply need to trust in Him and then receive “healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”

Shabbat Shalom

[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible.

[ii] Rabbi David Kimhi, (1160-1235 CE) medieval rabbi, biblical commentator, and philosopher.

[iii] Rabbi Nossom Scherman, The Later Prophets with a commentary anthologized from Rabbinic writings. Mesorah Publications, Ltd. Brooklyn, 2013. p 411

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Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.