Fast of Tisha B'Av

Haftarah Helper 5780: Tisha B’Av

Morning – Jeremiah 8:13-9:23

Despite King Josiah’s efforts to inspire repentance in Judah, the people, at best, have only repented outwardly- all are sinning. A despairing Jeremiah recounts the societal failings for which God will destroy Jerusalem.  Nobody will escape the oncoming calamity.

 

Haftarah Breakdown

Due to the frequent back and forth between perspectives in the prophecy, speakers have been noted in purple.

 

Verses 8:13-17: Destruction is coming. (13-God, 14-15- Judah, 16-Jeremiah, 17-God)

Jeremiah 8:13 ירמיהו ח:י״ג
“I will utterly consume them”, says the Lord. “There shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves will be withered, for what I gave them they transgressed.” אָסֹ֥ף אֲסִיפֵ֖ם נְאֻם־ה’ אֵין֩ עֲנָבִ֨ים בַּגֶּ֜פֶן וְאֵ֧ין תְּאֵנִ֣ים בַּתְּאֵנָ֗ה וְהֶֽעָלֶה֙ נָבֵ֔ל וָאֶתֵּ֥ן לָהֶ֖ם יַעַבְרֽוּם׃

 

Verses 8:18-23: Jeremiah’s lament over the destruction (18-Jeremiah, 19-20- Judah, 21-23-Jeremiah)

Jeremiah 8:21 ירמיהו ח:כ״א
For the wound of the daughter of my people, I am broken (with grief); I am dejected, (and) desolation has seized me. עַל־שֶׁ֥בֶר בַּת־עַמִּ֖י הָשְׁבָּ֑רְתִּי קָדַ֕רְתִּי שַׁמָּ֖ה הֶחֱזִקָֽתְנִי׃

 

Verses 9:1-5: Judeans lie, cheat, and slander and hence don’t know God… (1-Jeremiah, 2-5-God)

Jeremiah 9:3 ירמיהו ט:ג
Let each one beware of his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for each brother schemes, and every neighbor goes about with slander. אִ֤ישׁ מֵרֵעֵ֙הוּ֙ הִשָּׁמֵ֔רוּ וְעַל־כָּל־אָ֖ח אַל־תִּבְטָ֑חוּ כִּ֤י כָל־אָח֙ עָק֣וֹב יַעְקֹ֔ב וְכָל־רֵ֖עַ רָכִ֥יל יַהֲלֹֽךְ׃

 

Verses 9:6-8: …so how can God not punish Judah? (God)

Jeremiah 9:8 ירמיהו ט:ח
“Shall I not punish them for these things,” says the Lord, “shall My soul not avenge itself on a nation such as this?” הַעַל־אֵ֥לֶּה לֹֽא־אֶפְקָד־בָּ֖ם נְאֻם־ה ‘אִ֚ם בְּג֣וֹי אֲשֶׁר־כָּזֶ֔ה לֹ֥א תִתְנַקֵּ֖ם נַפְשִֽׁי׃ (ס)

 

Verses 9:9-15: Their utter destruction is imminent. (9-Jeremiah, 10-God, 11-Jeremiah, 12-15-God)

Jeremiah 9:15 ירמיהו ט:ט״ו
I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and I will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. וַהֲפִֽצוֹתִים֙ בַּגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א יָֽדְע֔וּ הֵ֖מָּה וַֽאֲבוֹתָ֑ם וְשִׁלַּחְתִּ֤י אַֽחֲרֵיהֶם֙ אֶת־הַחֶ֔רֶב עַ֥ד כַּלּוֹתִ֖י אוֹתָֽם׃

 

Verses 9:16-21: The call to mourning over the destruction. (16-17-God, 18-20 Jeremiah, 21- God)

Jeremiah 9:19 ירמיהו ט:י״ט
Indeed hear, O women, the word of the Lord, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth; teach your daughters a lamentation, and each to her neighbor a dirge. כִּֽי־שְׁמַ֤עְנָה נָשִׁים֙ דְּבַר־ה’ וְתִקַּ֥ח אָזְנְכֶ֖ם דְּבַר־פִּ֑יו וְלַמֵּ֤דְנָה בְנֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ נֶ֔הִי וְאִשָּׁ֥ה רְעוּתָ֖הּ קִינָֽה׃

 

Verses 9:22-23: Aside from knowing God and acting accordingly, nothing else is worthwhile. (God)

Jeremiah 9:23 ירמיהו ט:כ״ג
“But let him that glories, glory in this – that he understands and knows Me, for I am the Lord Who practices kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth; in these things I delight”, says the Lord. כִּ֣י אִם־בְּזֹ֞את יִתְהַלֵּ֣ל הַמִּתְהַלֵּ֗ל הַשְׂכֵּל֮ וְיָדֹ֣עַ אוֹתִי֒ כִּ֚י אֲנִ֣י ה’ עֹ֥שֶׂה חֶ֛סֶד מִשְׁפָּ֥ט וּצְדָקָ֖ה בָּאָ֑רֶץ כִּֽי־בְאֵ֥לֶּה חָפַ֖צְתִּי נְאֻם־ה’

 

Important Themes

Destruction: All three speakers describe and lament the oncoming destruction, emphasizing its many horrors. See 8:13-23, 9:9-21.

Knowledge of God: God makes it clear that the people do not know Him, and that this is the source of their interpersonal corruption.  See 9:1-8,12-13, 22-23.

 

Torah Reading Connections

The Haftarah serves as the “fulfillment” of the opening of Torah reading. For example, 9:15 (seen above), parallels the following verse:

Deuteronomy 4:27 דברים ד:כ״ז
And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will remain few in number among the nations to where the Lord will lead you. וְהֵפִ֧יץ ה’ אֶתְכֶ֖ם בָּעַמִּ֑ים וְנִשְׁאַרְתֶּם֙ מְתֵ֣י מִסְפָּ֔ר בַּגּוֹיִ֕ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְנַהֵ֧ג ה’ אֶתְכֶ֖ם שָֽׁמָּה׃

Also, see Deuteronomy 4:25-26, 28.

Other Connections

The Talmud uses verse 9:9 to describe the extent and aftermath of the destruction wrought on Tisha B’Av.

Yoma 54a יומא נ״ד עמוד א
Rabbi Yehuda says: “No person passed through the land of Judea for fifty-two years [after the destruction of the First Temple] as it is stated: ‘I will raise crying and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, for they have been burned, with no person passing through. And they do not hear the sound of the cattle; from the bird of the heavens to the beast [behema], all have fled and gone’ (Jeremiah 9:9). Behema, [spelled beit, heh, mem, heh] has a numerical value of fifty-two”, [alluding to the fact that no one passed through the land for fifty-two years.] ר’ יהודה אומר חמשים ושתים שנה לא עבר איש ביהודה שנאמר (ירמיהו ט, ט) על ההרים אשא בכי ונהי ועל נאות מדבר קינה כי נצתו מבלי איש עובר ולא שמעו קול מקנה מעוף השמים ועד בהמה נדדו הלכו בהמה בגימטריא חמשין ושתים הוו

 

Biblical translations by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg, with some emendations. Other translations from Sefaria.org, with some emendations.

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