- "And Acts
the Haftarah tells the story of a couple among the People of Israel who
merited, through Divine intervention, to be the parents of an individual
who became a great leader in Israel. That
great leader was "Shimshon," or Samson, who became not only one
of the last (the thirteenth of fifteen) of the "Shoftim," the
Judges, but also a "super-hero."
With his great physical strength, Shimshon was able to
single-handedly slay lions and, using no weapon other than the jawbone of
a donkey, to kill one thousand Philistines.
physical strength was given to Shimshon as long as he remained faithful to
the vow of "Nezirut," that he refrain from wine and from having
his hair cut, imposed upon him by the Angel of G-d, before he was born.
It was the
physical strength of Shimshon that enabled him to protect the Jewish
People, for an extended period, from the fierce Philistines, who had
persecuted the Jews and would remain one of the formidable enemies of the
Jewish People during a large part of the Biblical period.
The Midrash says that the Philistines feared Shimshon even twenty
years after his death.
subsequent to the Haftarah, the Book of Shoftim recounts how Delilah, a
beautiful Philistine woman with whom Shimshon had become enamored, caused
his downfall by learning the secret of his great strength, cutting his
hair, and betraying him to the Philistines.
characters in the Haftarah are Manoach, his wife and the "Malach,"
the Messenger of HaShem, who brings the news of Shimshon's birth and the
special requirements to be placed upon him, to his parents.
One Who makes the barren woman dwell in her house as a joyful mother of
children" ("Tehilim"/Psalms 113:9)
introduces us to yet another of the Biblical families who, like the Avot,
the forefathers Avraham,
Yitzchak and Yaakov
and the Imahot, the
Founding Mothers of the Jewish People Sarah,
and Leah, were
childless at first.
13:3-5 describe how a "Malach HaShem," an Angel of G-d, who
took on an awesome appearance appears to the woman, and informs her that
she is to be blessed with a son if she obeys the instructions that he will
instructions are that she is to begin to follow the practices of the Nazir;
namely to abstain from wine and all grape-derived products.
If she is faithful to these rules, the newborn will be a "Nazir"
from conception, from before he is
born. He will save the
Jewish People from the oppression of the Philistines.
The first "Passuk," verse of the "Perek,"
Chapter, from which this Haftarah is taken, though it is not part of the
Haftarah, describes how, because of the sins of the Israelites, HaShem
had given them over into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
The wife of
Manoach, who for some reason remains nameless in the Haftarah, who has
had the prophetic encounter, reports to her husband that a
mysterious Man of G-d has appeared to her, and told her that Manoach and
she would be privileged to be the parents of a child who would be a hero
and a savior for his People as long as he remained a "Nazir."
knowing what to think, prays that HaShem will send His Messenger, earthly
or heavenly, again, so that he can confirm his wife's story, and relieve
the nagging doubts that somehow his trust of his wife was not being taken
advantage of. HaShem
sympathizes with Manoach's predicament and sends His Messenger again to
Manoach's wife, alone in the field. The
wife rushes home to find her husband and tells him that the
"Man" has come again.
Dialogue Between Manoach and the
"Are you the one who spoke earlier with my wife?"
"I am the one."
"Now may your words come true.
What shall be the rule for the child, and what shall be done with
"Your wife should observe everything I told her.
As for the child, I already explained that to her."
"Let us prepare a feast for you."
"I do not eat the food that you eat and any sacrifice that you
wish to offer, should be offered to HaShem, my Master."
"What is your name, sir?"
"You have no 'need to know' it, for 'it is hidden.' "
Sacrifice and the Miracle
places a sacrifice upon the rock, without providing fire. Fire springs from the rock to consume the sacrifice.
The "Messenger," "Mafli La'asot," "acting
wondrously," enters into the flame, and ascends to heaven.
Having seen this miraculous vision, Manoach and his wife fall upon
their faces to the ground.
to his wife, "We will surely die!"
But his wife, more reasonably assures him that were that the case,
there would have been no purpose for the entire exercise.
wife bore a son, and called his name "Shimshon," or Samson.
The child grew, and HaShem blessed him.
And the "Ruach HaKodesh," the Holy Spirit, began to move
within him at Machane Dan, between Zorach and Eshtaol.
with the Parshah
several connections between the Haftarah and the Parshah and the Haftarah
and other places in the Chumash:
obvious connection is that both the Haftarah and the Parshah deal with the
subject of the "Nazir," the Jewish "ascetic."
Haftarah, one "Nazir" is Shimshon, though not yet born; the second is his mother, who is commanded by the Angel of
HaShem to become a "Nezirah" so that her infant will have been a
"Nazir" from conception.
The Parshah introduced
the concept of the "Nazir."
But classical "Nezirut" is undertaken by the vow of an
individual of his own free will; here, in the Haftarah, it is commanded by
period of general "Nezirut" is thirty days, though longer
periods may be specified, up to and including "Nezirut" for all
of one's life. But nowhere
does the Torah refer to a case of "Nezirut"
from conception, as does the Haftarah.
difference between the "Nezirut" of Shimshon and classical
"Nezirut" is that the latter includes the prohibition of
exposure to a dead body. Necessarily,
Shimshon's "Nezirut" could not include this, since it would be
Shimshon's task to rescue his People from the Philistines, and this
involved much contact with dead (Philistine) bodies.
There is an
indication in the Torah that the ideal of "Nezirut" is not
really desirable in Judaism, basically because of the question, "Why
do you need to be more righteous than the Torah?
Observance of three hundred sixty five prohibitions are not enough
for you, Mr. "Nazir?!" that you want to accept more upon
yourself?" That has been
suggested as the reason that the "Nazir" is required to bring a
Sin-Offering at the conclusion of his period of "Nezirut."
following may be somewhat non-traditional, but may also have at least a
grain of truth.
speaks of the "Sotah," the wayward wife who disobeys her
husband's warning against meeting privately with a certain man.
This meeting creates doubt in the husband's mind concerning the
loyalty of his wife. The
Miraculous Discovery Process of the Truth about the "Sotah"
restores "Shalom Bayit," "Peace and Trust in the Home"
of the couple.
Haftarah, we have a childless couple, Manoach and his wife.
All of a sudden, the wife comes running to Manoach and says that
she met a very handsome and striking man who told her that she would
shortly be giving birth to a child. It
would be unnatural, or at least highly unusual for any husband to accept
that at face-value, without at least a twinge of doubt concerning the
wife's conduct. So HaShem
restores "Shalom Bayit" by sending his "Malach" a
"And he Prayed" Connection
We find in
the Haftarah Manoach praying to Hashem for further instructions from the
"Messenger" concerning the child to be born (Shoftim 13:8).
The word used for this prayer is "VaYetar," the same used
at the beginning of Parshat Toldot (Bereshit 25:21) where we find
"And Yitzchak prayed to HaShem for his wife, for she was
barren," and the unusual word, "VaYetar" is used there for
the first time.
La'Asot," "And He acted Wondrously" Connection
Haftarah, we find this expression describing the actions of the Malach
when he entered into the flame and ascended into Heaven.
Naso, we find a similar expression in BaMidbar 6:2, "Ish O Ishah ki Yafli
Lindor Neder Nazir," "
when a man or a woman 'wondrously'
vow to undertake the restrictions of the 'Nazir,'
possible that the wondrous aspect is that the human being can by use of
the power of speech obligate
him or herself in this as well as many other Torah obligations.
reference to the Creation of the human being, the Torah uses the language
(Bereshit 2:7) "And He breathed into him the breath of life
and the Man became a living soul," Onkelos translates "living
soul" as a "speaking being," because only the human
being, of all of G-d's creatures, is favored with the power of
speech. (Pardon me if this sounds familiar; I used the idea of speech in
this week's "Second
context in which we find the expression "U'Mafli La-Asot" is in
the "Berachah," or blessing, that is recited by the Jew
upon exiting from the bathroom, after having performed one of the bodily
is described as the One Who heals all flesh, and acts wondrously.
perhaps serve to indicate the attitude of the Jew concerning the body.
Just as the Angel in the Haftarah transferred from matter to
spirit, so is the human body viewed as a composite of matter and spirit.
It is said that the biological parents and HaShem are partners in
the creation of a child, whereby the biological parents contribute the
physical potential and HaShem contributes the spiritual potential.
life, it is his or her task to use their body to observe the commands of
the Torah, thereby raising the material to the level of the spiritual.
"Tzayar Olamim," the Supreme Artist, creates and knits together
the components of the human being while the latter is in the womb of its
mother, in a manner beyond the
capability of any artist, and He maintains and heals the body, keeping
matter and spirit together, so they can interact
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU