Vayetze - 5761
Traditions of the various communities differ with regard to what selection from the Prophets to read as the Haftarah for Parshat Vayetze.
The entire Sephardic Community begins with Hoshea 11:7, "And My People are in doubt about returning to Me " Most Sephardim conclude the Haftarah with Hoshea 12:12, where Hoshea prophecies the fate of the idol-worshipping cults of the Kingdom of Ephraim, "their altars shall be as heaps in the furrows of the field." A minority of Sephardic Communities continue through 13:5, "I made you aware (that I am G-d) in the desert, in a thirsty land."
begin at Hoshea 12:13, with the verse that is the clearest link to the
Parshah (for more, see below), "And Yaakov fled to the fields of
" And they continue till the end of the Book of Hoshea, which is
the end of the first section of the Haftarah of
Shabbat Shuvah, at 14:10, "Whoever is wise will understand
these, a discerning person will know them, for the ways of HaShem are just -
the righteous will walk in them, but sinners
will stumble on them."
The Prophet Hoshea
"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. 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. They 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.
Hoshea is a
Prophet of extreme emotion. In this Haftarah, he portrays Hashem's
legitimate anger against His People as that of a "she-bear who has lost
her young, who rips open the heart of her enemy, and as a young lion,
devouring its prey." (Hoshea 13:8)
Yet, on the
other hand, his Book is called the Book of Love, because it contains such
expressions as "I will be like the dew for Israel" (Hoshea 14:6),
"And let us know; let us pursue the goal of knowing Hashem as the dawn,
and it will come to us as the rain, the late and the early rain, entering
the earth." (Hoshea 6:3) And the expressions of engagement recited
daily as we put on the "Tefilin
shel Yad," near the heart, "And I will betroth you unto Me
forever, and I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness and justice, and
with kindness, and with mercy, and you will know Hashem." (Hoshea
A Summary of the Haftarah
Verses 11:7 - 11:11
The Prophet Hoshea describes the hesitation of the Jewish People to return to HaShem, at the time of the Redemption. HaShem will therefore assure them that He has not forgotten their special relationship, and that He will choose no other city besides Yerushalayim. He will not continue to punish the Kingdom of Ephraim, that had sinned most grievously.
He will roar
like a lion, and the Jewish People will comes to Him out of the Exile.
They will flock to Him as birds returning to their coops.
HaShem compares and contrasts the Kingdoms of Ephraim (Israel) and the Kingdom of Yehudah. Both have sinned against Him. But Ephraim has been by far the worse. They have attempted to surround HaShem with lies and deceit, while Yehudah has been more faithful.
alliances with Ashur and Mitzrayim, instead of relying upon the saving power
of their G-d. The Kingdom of
Yehudah sinned as well, and will be punished for its sins.
gave special strengths to the People of Israel, as shown by the ability of
Yaakov to grasp tightly the heel of Esav, while still in the womb.
And even more, by his ability to wrestle with an Angel, the Heavenly
Guardian of Esav, and defeat him, until the Angel, as it were, cried for
of Ephraim attempts to emulate the Nations of Canaan, in their thievery and
corruption. Yet Ephraim says,
"I am innocent; no sin can be found in my behavior!"
reminds the Jewish People of His many kindnesses to them, beginning with
taking them out of Egypt, the House of Bondage, and protecting them in the
desert. He poured the Prophetic
Spirit onto hundreds of Prophets and thousands of
"Children," or disciples
of the Prophets.
kings who ruled over the Kingdom of Ephraim responded to those kindnesses by
establishing numberless cults of idol worship.
Patriarch Yaakov fled to Aram and labored there for the love of a woman, and
for the love of that woman, he guarded sheep.
Likewise, HaShem, as it were, went down into Egypt and labored with
the Jewish People for His love of them, and redeemed them and guarded them
by His Prophet, Moshe.
has provoked HaShem most bitterly; therefore his blood will be cast upon
him, and the contempt that he showed to HaShem, HaShem will show to him.
continues to pour out the devastating wrath of HaShem upon the Kingdom of
them a leader who had the potential of greatness, Yeravam ben Nevat.
But, in his arrogance, Yeravam betrayed HaShem, and the People whom
he was responsible to lead, and set up Calves for them to worship, and
forbade their traveling to Yerushalayim.
People added to his sins, by instituting other cults of image-worship;
images that they fashioned out of silver, and they kissed idols whose cults
practiced human sacrifice.
says HaShem, they will be blown away, like chaff in the wind, and as smoke
coming from a window.
reminds them again that He took them out of Egypt, that He
is their only G-d, and He provided evidence for them to know Him, by His
protection in the desert.
cattle-like, fed, were self-satisfied, and their pride rose within them, and
forgot the One Who had provided for them.
HaShem, in desperation, as it were, says "I will be like a leopard against them, like a female bear who has lost her cubs who rips open their hearts, and will devour them like a female lion, and leaves their carcasses for the wild beasts."
inappropriately for Kings, so I gave you inappropriate Kings.
Your sin is
stored up, and cannot be erased!
You want me
to save you from death, and from the grave.
What nerve! Come, death!
Come, grave, and have your way with them!
Let a mighty
east wind dry up their source and make like the desert their spring!
out one last almost intolerable blast at the Kingdom of Ephraim, before he
will call upon them for Repentance:
shall bear her guilt,
that deserved punishment, miraculously
there is still hope for the People of Israel, and that is by means of "Teshuvah,"
O Israel, unto the L-rd your G-d,
And, if you
be as dew unto Israel;
branches shall spread,
that dwell under His shadow
is wise, let him understand these things,
element in the Haftarah is the Section beginning "Return, O Israel unto
the L-rd your G-d, for you have stumbled in your sin." The Prophet
declares the tremendous power of Teshuvah, for even if a person commits a
sin on purpose, if he or she does Teshuvah, the deed will be viewed by
Hashem as accidental.
Hoshea selected as the Prophet who would give the "Teshuvah Drashah"
to the People of Israel?
Weissman, author of "The Weekly Haftaros," published,
appropriately for this Shabbat by Benei
Yaakov Publishers (Bklyn., N.Y.), cites a Midrash which first notes that
Hoshea ben Beeri was a member of the Tribe of Reuven. It then proceeds to
answer the question posed by focusing on the events surrounding the sale of
Yoseph by his brothers. At a critical moment, just before the sale, Reuven
is absent. Where was he? According to the Midrash, he was engaged in
Teshuvah for his sin of involving himself, for the sake of his mother, in
his father's private affairs. And the Torah itself testifies that Reuven
wanted to pull Yoseph out of the pit and return him to his father.
For his pure
intentions, Reuven was rewarded with having one of his descendants, the
Prophet Hoshea, deliver the Message of Teshuvah to the Jewish People.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU