In Israel this week the Haftarah we’ll read is from Jeremiah, Chapter 32. Many of Jeremiah’s writings are full of doom and gloom, rebukes of the nation and prophecies of the destruction of the Holy Temple. This particular Haftarah, though, is one of comfort.
It is in this Haftarah that HaShem instructs Jeremiah to redeem his relative’s land that had been sold due to poverty. This was at the time when the Babylonians were poised to conquer Israel. How is this Haftarah reassuring? The answer is in verse fifteen: For so said HaShem…houses, fields, and vineyards will yet be bought in this land. In other words, here was reassurance that the Jewish people would return to the land. And they did so after seventy years of exile.
Fourteen years ago I was at a parents’ meeting when one of the fathers addressed us. He, along with other brave farmers in Gush Katif and their neighbors, were shielding the rest of us from the Hamas rockets. The farmers were in financial distress. Due to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan, Gush Katif was slated for “disengagement”. In other words, all the Jewish occupants of Gaza were slated to be evicted from their homes. The occupants did not believe the dispersion would really happen. They believed a miracle would prevent it and the farmers wanted to begin their planting. However, the banks that had given them loans in the past were refusing to do so then.
The farmers were turning to other Jews, not for a hand-out, but for a loan, that would be paid back the following year. Many of us agreed to help finance the planting.
Sadly, the miracle did not happen. Sadly, the crops were never sowed. Sadly, we have an ongoing war with Hamas. And the loans we gave became a donation.
When I hear the Haftarah of Behar, though, I feel hope. Jeremiah’s redemption of his relative’s land was not for naught. Sometime soon, I believe, our loans will also be for naught. Someday the Jews of Gush Katif will return to the land and plant again. May it happen speedily in our time.
This post was inspired by a class from Rabbi Aharon Adler.
My novel, Growing With My Cousin, a good summer read, is available at Jewish bookstores and on line at http://www.feldheim.com/growing-with-my-cousin.html or