This week’s Haftorah is the first of a trilogy. It is the first of the three Haftoros that are read during the Bein-Hametzarim. The Haftorah is a collection of Nevuos of Yirmiyahu. The bulk if the Haftorah consists of a rebuke to Klal-Yisroel, of warnings not to persist in its sinful course of action, as well as an ominous forecast of the Churban.
The Haftorah ends on a more uplifting note. Hashem tells us that He remembers the faithfulness of our youth. Hashem says He remembers how we were willing to follow Him “in the wilderness, in a land not sown”. The Haftorah then concludes by stating that we are holy to Hashem and that He will punish harshly all those who harm us.
The last two thoughts are definitely uplifting. There is, however, something missing in them: why is the fact that we once trusted Hashem and loved Him reason enough for Hashem to punish those who harm us? What does our faithful past have to do with our present?
When Am-Yisroel was faithful to Hashem, it made sense that Hashem should protect us. The betrayal by one side in a relationship, however, may result in the end of the relationship as the deceived party, when it finds out that it was betrayed, may simply walk away from it. If it does not, the ‘betrayer’ still has a chance to amend and restore the relationship.
We betrayed Hashem but Hashem isn’t accepting this. When we betray Hashem we leave Him and thereby become vulnerable to various forces at work in the world. In the final analysis, what Hashem is telling us is that He has not abandoned us, but is rather awaiting our return. The ball is in our court and we can amend our relationship with Hashem. Hashem remembers out faithfulness and Hashem has stayed true to our original relationship. Hashem is eagerly awaiting our return.
A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski