to the Haftarah
eleventh Principle of Faith of the RAMBAM
is the Principle of Retribution: "I believe with perfect faith that
the Creator, Blessed is His Name, rewards with good those who observe His
commandments, and punishes those who violate His commandments."
This is the Divine version of the Principle of "Midah K'neged
Midah," "Measure for Measure."
Principle is derived from the words of Moshe throughout the Torah, but
emphasized in Parshat Nitavim (Devarim 30: 1-3,9), "And it
will be when all these things befall you, the blessing, and the curse,
, And you will
return to Hashem your G-d, and you will obey Him,
, you and your
children, with all your heart and all your soul.
And Hashem will return
your Exiles, and He will have mercy on you, and He will return, and gather
you from all the nations throughout which he scattered you,
will elevate you, in
everything you do, with respect to your children, and the children of your
cattle, and the produce of your Land, for Hashem will return to
delight in you for good, as He once delighted in your fathers."
the Principle is derived from all of the Prophets and the Sacred Writings,
but is seen perhaps most
clearly in this Haftarah, the closing Chapter of Malachi and the closing chapter of Prophecy in the Bible.
At the close of the Second Chapter of the Book of Malachi, a
challenge is placed in the mouths of the sinners of the last
generation, the generation of the Mashiach, or perhaps in the
mouths of all sinners, "He who does evil seems to be good in the eyes
of the L-rd because many sinners go unpunished
or, if this is not true, that is, that the sinner does evil in the
eyes of G-d, "Ayeh Elokei HaMishpat?" "Where is the G-d
was among the group of Twelve Prophets known, not surprisingly, as
"The Twelve." He
was also a member of the smaller set of three Prophets Chaggai, Zechariah
and Malachi, all members of the "Trei Asar," the
"Twelve," who were considered the "last of the
the Talmud in Masechet Sotah 15a says that the three prophesied in the
second year of the Persian King Daryavesh.
seems to be some confusion as to who exactly Malachi was. One tradition is that "Malachi is Ezra" (Megilah
15a); another is that "Malachi - this is Mordechai. And why was he called by the name Malach-I?
Because he was made second-in-power to the King!"
is a strong tradition that Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi were the last of
the Prophets of Israel. (Bava
is another tradition that the Anshei K'nesset Hagedolah prayed to Hashem
to remove the Inclination toward Idol Worship from the personality make-up
of the human being. When that
was done, the Spirit of Prophecy was removed at the same time.
Apparently, according to this tradition, the Holy Spirit and the
Inclination toward Idol Worship are somehow "two sides of the same
of the Haftarah
beginning of the Third Chapter of Malachi speaks of the arrival of the
"Master Who you have earnestly sought." This Master refers to Hashem, and He is bringing the Final
Redemption. But He is
described as a refining and purifying fire.
And the outcome of the purification will be the first verse of our
Haftarah (Malachi 3:4):
shall the offering of Yehudah and Yerushalayim be as pleasant unto the
L-rd as in days of old and as in ancient years."
David explains that "Ki'yemai Olam," in days of old, refers to
the time of Mosheh and "Shanim
Kadmoniyot," ancient years, refer to the time of Shelomo, builder of
the First Beit HaMaikdash, when Hashem received sacrifices with good will
and fire came down and consumed what was on the altar.
purifying process is now described:
says, "I will come near to you to administer Justice (this is the
answer to Where is the G-d of Justice?)
And I will be a swift witness against those who practice
witchcraft, adulterers, those who swear falsely, those who withhold
legitimate wages; those who persecute the widow, and the orphan, who
pervert the Justice of the stranger and (in general) against those who
do not fear me, said the L-rd of Hosts.
I, Hashem, do not change, and you, sons of Yaakov, have not
explains the above as meaning that all prophesies as to the future that I
gave through My Prophets will yet
come true. And you, People of
Israel, have not experienced the fate of other nations, who have
disappeared from the arena of history.
Rather, you will never disappear, but will always remain a Special
People among the nations.
though because of your sins I exiled you to all corners of the earth,
nevertheless, just as it is true that I will never change, so is it
true that you will never disappear.
in the End of Days, you will return to your former greatness, and you will
be seen by all as above the other nations.
says to the Jewish People, You have a long history of violating my
commandments, going back to your fathers.
But now, return to me and I will return to you.
Yet, as if the list of your sins were not long enough, you have the
nerve to ask, How else have we sinned?
says to the People, How dare you rob from G-d!
Jewish People answer, in righteous indignation, How did we rob from
You? Who can rob from G-d?
answers, By withholding Terumah
That is, by not giving the authorized gifts to the Kohen and the Levi, my
the sin of withholding Terumah and Maaser, I have caused your crops to
fail, and you still did not learn the proper lesson that your sins have
caused your punishment, but instead accuse Me of stealing your rain!
us make a test, says Hashem, Bring all the missing Maaser to the
storehouse, and let s see if I will not open the windows of Heaven,
and I will pour blessings upon you until you will have insufficient
vessels and storage space to contain it (father of RADAK).
I will prevent any manner of curse from resting upon you, such as a swarm
of locusts ruining your crops, or pre-mature falling off of the grapes
from your vines.
all the nations shall call you Happy, for yours will be a delightful
resumes His complaint and warning against the Jewish People, Your words
have been exceedingly harsh against me!
responds, What is it that we have said?
answers, You said, There is no Law and there is no Judge! (RADAK)
You further said, It is fruitless to serve Hashem, and what
profit is there in guarding His Laws, and walking humbly because of the
commands of the L-rd of Hosts, as if to say that He takes no notice of our
actions and does not pay retribution for observance of his commands!
you said, Therefore we say that it is the wicked who are the most
happy, because they tested G-d, and escaped!
answer you as follows, To walk humbly with Me and observe My
commands is not fruitless! And
even though it may appear as such, My System of Justice has a time scale
much longer than yours; all actions are recalled; none is forgotten. (RASHI)
will yet show you how I distinguish between the righteous and the wicked,
on that Day that I will make a Special Day of Retribution, and I
will have mercy on the righteous as a father has mercy on his son who
behold that Day is coming, and it is burning like a furnace; and all the
proud, and all that are wicked shall be as stubble; And the Day that is
coming will set them ablaze, says Hashem, L-rd of Hosts, that it
shall leave them neither root nor branch.
unto you that fear me, shall the sun of righteousness rise with healing in
its wings, and you shall go forth and frolic, as calves from the stall.
And you shall tread down upon the wicked; For they shall be as
ashes under your feet, on the Day that I will make, says the L-rd of
and many commentators say that this Day refers to Hashem taking the
sun out of its box, as it were, and its strong light will bring
healing and life to the righteous of all the Ages, while it will burn to
ash the wicked of all the generations.
there is a condition on which the Coming of the Day depends and that is
that the Torah of Moshe be observed.
If it is observed, I will send Eliyahu the Navi, the Harbinger of
the Mashiach, to unite parents with children and children with parents.
quotes the Rabbis in the Talmud as explaining the actions of Eliyahu in
paving the way for the Mashiach that he will restore peace in the
will be required to perform this mission of peace, before the Coming of
the Great Day, the Day of Retribution for Good and Evil, in order to
put an end to the cycle of destruction of Israel and its Exile, that would
HaGadol means the Shabbat of the Great One. All doubt concerning the will of Hashem and the intention of
Hashem as the mevakesh et ha-nirdaf, the One Who is always on the
side of the powerless were and are resolved by his actions in
Egypt when He took the
side of His People, Israel, whom He had selected to be the Kingdom
of Priests and a Holy Nation and redeemed them from slavery to the
Kingdom of Egypt, the Kingdom of Night, which had sunk to the fiftieth
level of uncleanness.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU