Jeremiah – Chapter 17

THIS Pen is Certainly Mightier Than Any Sword!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The nation’s sin is deeply ingrained, as if written by an iron pen with a diamond point. And where is it “written?” On the people’s hearts and on the altars they used to serve idols. Their idols were as dear to them as their own children. Therefore, G-d has made Jerusalem “fair game” for plunder. They will be forced to release the land to make up for all the shemmitos (Sabbatical years) they did not observe, while they serve their enemies in a foreign land.

G-d says that cursed is a person who puts his trust in human beings (Rashi clarifies that this means to work the land during the Sabbatical years, when it is supposed to rest). This causes him to turn away from G-d, Who promised enough produce before shemittah to last for three years. Such a person will be cut off (presumably childless) like a tree standing alone. He will dwell in dry, salty land, not seeing good.

On the other hand, a person who trusts in G-d will be blessed and G-d will be his trust. (This verse is sung as the song “Baruch HaGever.”) This person will be like a tree planted by the water, whose leaves will stay green despite any drought.

A person’s heart is full of deceit. A person may appear to be good, but G-d can tell what’s really going on inside. G-d examines everyone inside and out, and gives them what they truly deserve. Some people claim wealth that they have not truly earned; they will not live to enjoy it.

G-d’s “throne” is exalted and He is the source of hope to the Jewish people. Anyone who turns his back on G-d will ultimately regret it. Jeremiah asks G-d to heal him from the insults and injuries he has suffered. People ask where G-d is; Jeremiah asks G-d to show them! Jeremiah wasn’t eager to ask G-d to act; he preferred to seek mercy on the nation. Since he had to foretell disaster, Jeremiah hopes that G-d’s words will not be a source of humiliation to him. Jeremiah asks that his pursuers, not he, be shamed and broken. Let them suffer repeated days of reckoning.

G-d tells Jeremiah to stand in the gate used by many people, which the kings of Judah would use to come and go. He was then to visit the other gates of Jerusalem. And what was Jeremiah to do there? He was to announce to the people not to carry on Shabbos (the Sabbath) – not to carry into Jerusalem, nor to carry out of their houses, nor to perform any other labors on Shabbos. This was commanded many generations earlier, but the people didn’t listen and neither did Jeremiah’s generation. G-d says that if the people listen and refrain from carrying on Shabbos, then the Davidic dynasty would thrive and the people of Judah could inhabit Jerusalem forever. People would come from all over – from all of Judah and Benjamin, and from the Negev, to offer sacrifices to G-d in the Temple. But if they don’t listen and continue to violate Shabbos, G-d will light a fire in Jerusalem, consuming all the palaces without being extinguished.

Download Audio File