Micah – Chapter 7

Tashlich

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Micah says that it’s a poor time to be a prophet, since his generation is overwhelmingly evil. (He compares himself to the last figs of summer that remain after the gathering.) There’s no righteous person (ripe figs) to be found. The people who are left are violent predators of their fellow men. In the long run, this will not benefit them – neither the crooked judge nor the official who seeks bribes. The best among them is like a hedge of thorns. Payback time is close at hand.

Don’t trust a “friend.” (The Talmud – Chagiga 16a – says the “friend” is the Yetzer Hara – our evil inclination – which entices us to sin on the basis that “G-d will forgive me.”) The one in our own embrace (our own souls) will testify against us (ibid.). Micah’s generation is all messed up; for example, children disrespectfully confront their parents and the members of one’s own family are his enemies. (Sadly, this image may not be as shocking as it was when Micah first painted it.)

Micah prays to G-d and hopes for His salvation; he trusts that G-d will take care of him in exile. The invaders of Babylonia and, later, Rome should not rejoice over Israel’s downfall, because Israel will rise again after each of these events. Israel can endure the wrath of G-d – which was earned – knowing full well that it is followed by redemption. When Israel’s enemies see this, they will regret mocking Israel when they conquered them, saying, “Where’s your G-d, huh?” Then Israel will be up and her enemies will be down.

The enemies think the day of Israel’s redemption (and of their own downfalls) will never come, but it will. The Assyrian exiles will return and the land of the invaders will be desolate because of their evil actions. Micah prays that G-d personally lead His people, like a shepherd leading a flock. At that time, there will be wonders comparable to those when the Jews left Egypt. The nations who attacked Israel will shut their mouths and will unable to bear the news of Israel’s successes. They will fear G-d and His nation, Israel.

Who is like G-d, forgiving sins against Him? He doesn’t stay angry forever, preferring acts of kindness. He will cast our sins into the sea. (This is the Tashlich prayer, which is said on Rosh Hashana.) G-d will restore truth and kindness, the attributes of Jacob and Abraham, to their descendants.

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