V'Simchi Bat Zion"
Haftarah read on this Shabbat, Shabbat Parshat Beha'alotecha in the
Diaspora (see next paragraph and following) according to the customs of
both the Ashkenazic
communities, is the same as was read this year on the first Shabbat of
That is the selection from the Book of Zecharyah, from Chapter 2,
verses 14-17, all of Chapter 3, through verse 7 of Chapter 4.
The beautiful and optimistic Haftarah begins "Roni v'simchi
bat Zion," "Sing out and Rejoice, O Daughter of Zion."
Yisrael," the Holy Land, is ahead of the Diaspora in many holy ways.
In particular, the Jewish People there are already up to Parshat
Shelach, and its corresponding Haftarah.
situation has come about because of the observance in the Diaspora of the
Major Holidays (Pesach, Shavuot
and Sukkot) as two-day,
rather than one-day Holidays, at both ends (except for Shavuot, which is
observed simply for two days).
two-day observance, known as "Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot," was
instituted in Talmudic times because of the difficulty in communicating
the decisions of the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim
as to the beginnings of the various Hebrew Months to the Jewish
communities in the Exile.
Sages had devised a method of torchlight communication by night from
mountain-top to mountain-top to quickly alert the entire Diaspora of those
But the Shomronim, the not-so-good Samaritans, frustrated their
scheme by lighting torches on the wrong nights, thus forcing the adoption
of the two-day system of Holiday observance in the Diaspora.
on the Second Day of Shavuot in the Diaspora, it was no longer Shavuot in
It was an "ordinary" Shabbat.
Thus they read Parshat Naso in Israel, which we in the Exile didn't
get to until the following week.
By Simchat Torah,
we'll be back in sync with our brothers in Zion, because of the doubling
up of Parshiyot which we will do here, but not there.
the originator of the message which is read this Shabbat as the Haftarah,
"belonged" to a group of "Minor
Prophets," called that only by virtue of the quantity, not the quality of their prophetic legacy. This group was
called the "Trei Asar,"
which means in Aramaic the number twelve. And, strangely enough, there
were a dozen prophets included in this group. As a group, they rebuked the
Jewish People about their continuous idol-worship and, possibly worse, for
their worship of Hashem with
the proper outward trappings, but with none
of the required inwardness, reducing their great religion to a mockery
and a meaningless shell of ritual.
also harshly criticized the People for their lack
of social justice, whereby they trampled upon the rights of the
underprivileged. And yet another great theme was their reliance on foreign nations for their salvation, rather than upon
Hashem, Who had stood by them always and saved them from Egypt, the Seven
Nations, Amalek and on and on.
Zechariah and Malachi (approx. 526 BCE - 490 BCE)
Talmud groups these three prophets together as the "last
of the prophets," even though Chaggai and Zechariah lived and
prophesied somewhat earlier than Malachi. One of the major themes of the
Prophecy of Chaggai and Zechariah was the encouragement of the People of
Yehudah to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians
in 586 BCE.
addresses his Prophecy in this week's Haftarah to Yehoshua ben Yehotzadak,
the High Priest of the Jewish People and to Zerubavel, the Jewish
Governor, appointed by the Persians (Persia was the "World
Empire".at that time). There was a lot of opposition to the
rebuilding of the Temple, mainly external, and that mainly from the
Shomronim, who were not interested in seeing the Jewish People rise again
prophesied after the Temple had already been constructed. By that time,
the attitude of the Jews towards the Temple, and spiritual matters in
general, had become apathetic. Furthermore, they had adopted many
practices alien to the Spirit of the Torah. Malachi challenges the People
to return to G-d "before the coming of the great and terrible day of
the L-rd!" (Malachi 3:23)
Malachi, the Talmud records that the gift of Prophecy was given to (holy)
fools and madmen!
Haftarah consists of the following three parts:
out and rejoice, O Daughter of Zion, for I am coming - And I will dwell
within you, says Hashem." (Zechariah 2:14) The Prophet
announces a coming occasion of great joy, for Hashem is returning
openly to the Jewish People after a period of withdrawal. Though
there is definitely a reference here to the historical period in
Zechariah lived, towards the end of "Galut Bavel," the
Exile, which had lasted seventy years, according to the Prophecy of
Yirmiyahu, there is also an undertone that the Prophet is also
addressing a Diaspora two and a half Millenia later, and that the
Temple referred to is also the Third Temple, to be built by the Mashiach.
many nations will attach themselves to the L-rd
" (Zechariah 2:15).
This verse also has strong Messianic connotations, and is reminiscent of
the future time which we pray for on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur,
"for My House will be called a House of Prayer for all nations!"
He showed me Yehoshua the High Priest standing before the Angel of the
L-rd, and the Satan (the Accusing Angel) was standing on his right side,
to accuse him. And G-d said to the Satan, 'May the L-rd rebuke you. O
Satan, and may the L-rd Who chooses Jerusalem rebuke you; is
this not a firebrand plucked from the fire?" (Zechariah 3:1-2)
ben Yehotzadak, the "Kohen Gadol," High Priest, seems to be on trial in a Heavenly courtroom though, as we shall
see, it is possible that there is no trial here at all!
the courtroom scenario, Yehoshua is charged with not preventing his sons
from marrying gentile women and for allowing them to remain married to
them despite their conversions which were less than adequate. That sin
warrants, according to the Prosecuting attorney, who is none other than
the "Satan," the proverbial Accusing Angel, Yehoshua's removal
from office. It is that sin which is responsible for the "filthy
garments" that Yehoshua is described as wearing.
High Priest is defended by HaShem Who says, "Yehoshua is certainly a
righteous person, for 'is he not a firebrand plucked from the fire?' He is
certainly righteous because he survived being thrown into a fiery furnace
by Nevuchadnetzar. Thus he deserves to remain in place as Kohen Gadol, and
to have his beautiful Priestly Garments returned."
is an Alternate Scenario, in which no trial is taking place. The
"Satan" refers to the enemies of the Jewish people, Sanbalat and
his allies, who have thrown formidable obstacles into the path of the
Jewish rebuilding effort. G-d,
in the Prophecy, addresses these enemies of the Jewish People , "How
could you hope to prevent them from constructing their Temple? What could
you do to them worse than the "fiery Exile" from which they have
to the Ibn Ezra, one of the classical commentators on the Bible, the
"filthy garments" refer to the impoverished spiritual state of
the People, who have no Temple, no Curtain separating the Holy from the
Holy of Holies, no golden covering of the Ark, and no golden Altar. The
clothes are merely a metaphor for their absence of honor and beauty.
to both Scenarios mentioned above, Hashem says, "Hear now, Yehoshua,
High Priest, behold I am bringing my servant, Zemach." (Zechaiah 4:8)
are two possible references of the name "Zemach." One is
Zerubavel, whom Hashem will help "grow" ("Zemach" is
related to growth) into his new responsibilities as political leader of
the Jewish people. And Hashem is telling Yehoshua that he will be sharing
leadership of the Jewish people with Zerubavel.
possibility for the meaning of "Tzemach" is the Mashiach. Here
the aspect of "Zemach" that is emphasized is that it often
remains underground, out of sight, for long periods of time, before rising
to the surface, as has Mashiach remained hidden until he will come to the
fore. RADAK and Ibn Ezra note that the "gematria," the Hebrew
letter sum of numerical equivalents (as in "Scrabble") of the
word "Tzemach" is the same as that of "Menachem," a
name of the Mashiach. The Targum says outright that the meaning of the
term is the "Mashiach."
now displays a corner-stone and says, "Behold this corner-stone which
I have placed before Yehoshua; on this stone there are seven eyes
do the "seven eyes" refer to?
commentators say that they refer to the intensive observation and
monitoring that Hashem will provide for the Jews in their
rebuilding effort, and this would match the meaning of the same
expression later, after the Haftarah, in Zechariah (4:10), where
stone, now a finishing stone, is also pictured with seven eyes but
there, there is a specific reference to the "eyes of Hashem,
taking in the whole earth."
the RADAK, Rav David Kimchi, also one of the great
commentators, quotes an interpretation in the name of his father
that the seven eyes refer to the eyes of the seven leaders who will be
charged with responsibility for building the Second Temple; namely,
Yehoshua, Ezra, Zerubavel, Nechemya and the three Prophets
Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi.
part contains the clearest link to Parshat Beha'alotecha in the Haftarah.
The Parshah opens with a command by HaShem
to Aharon, delivered
by Moshe, to light the Menorah in the Mishkan.
however, is unable to picture or comprehend the design of the Menorah
described by G-d, because of the unique nature of its construction, until
HaShem shows him a vision of it.
the Haftarah, Zechariah is likewise shown a vision of a "Golden
Menorah with unique features.
It has a receptacle on top, and seven lamps, each of which has
seven pipes attached to the bowl on top. Two olive trees stand next to the
Menorah, one on the right, and one on the left." (Zechariah 4:2-3)
are many important aspects to this vision. One is that there are two olive trees, one representing the priesthood and the other
representing the kingship (both were anointed with olive oil). This again
told Yehoshua that he would be sharing leadership with Zerubavel.
possible interpretation of the symbolism of the trees is that they
represent a warning to the
Chashmonaim who would make the tragic error of combining in themselves
both positions, spiritual and political leadership, Priest and King. For
this sin the Chashmonaim,
even though they had literally
saved the Jewish People and the Torah, disappeared from the face of
aspect of the Menorah is that it is fully operational by itself. This may
be to indicate that unlike Chanukah,
the Holiday in the Hebrew Calendar most closely associated with a Menorah,
in the future, when the Jews would have to fight the Greeks and the
assimilated Jews in order to rededicate the Temple, now this would not be
necessary. For permission had already been granted by Daryavesh, the
Persian King, a descendant of
Esther, and not only permission, but all the material
requirements necessary for the construction had been donated by him.
Prophet then delivers an important message, an idea fundamental to
Judaism, to Zerubavel, which also follows from the effortless operation of
the Menorah: "This is the word of G-d to Zerubavel, 'not by physical
might or power, but by my spirit,
says the L-d of Hosts.' " (Zechariah 4:6)
Haftarah concludes with a promise to Zerubavel, " that Hashem will
flatten all obstacles, though they appear as mountains, in the attempt to
rebuild the Temple, "Who are you, O great mountain; before Zerubavel,
you will become a valley." (Zechariah 4:7)
And the People will cheer "Chen, Chen lah," "Beauty,
beauty belongs to it." (Zechariah 4:7)
is spoken of is the Jewish concept of beauty, which emphasizes spiritual beauty. It is the Jewish response to the philosophy
expressed in "Beauty is Truth, Truth beauty; That is all ye know on
earth, and all ye need to know," (John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian
Urn"), which sees in physical
beauty the equivalent of Truth, and the highest value.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU