B’Ohel Haneviyim: Parshas Matos-Masei 5773


This week’s Haftorah is very apropos for being the middle Haftorah for the Haftoros of the Three weeks. We find ourselves in the midst of the most depressing point in time of the Jewish year. We are in an intense morning period for the Churban Beis Hamikdash and for the Galus we still live in. We have been going through a two thousand year exile in which we have suffered every tragedy and calamity possible. During the three weeks between the 17th of Tamuz and the ninth of Av we mourn all this. The Haftorah we read this Shabbos is just dispiriting. Yirmiyahu relays to us Hashem’s message: we are a wayward wife, totally unfaithful. We left Him, Hashem tells us, for sticks and stones. We traded the high road for nothingness. The most depressing part of the Haftorah is that it doesn’t even really end on an up note (both Ashkenazim and Sefardim add Pesukim at the end in order to end on a more positive note).

When it comes to doing Teshuva, there are differences in approaches among the different Rishonim as to what is required from a person (see Rambam Hilchos Teshuva and Rabeinu Yona in Sharei Teshuva). One aspect upon which everyone agrees is that in order to do Teshuva one must admit to one’s wrongdoing. One cannot do Teshuva and change without realizing that what one has done is wrong. Very often when one does wrong on one level or another it isn’t actualized. People have a tendency to rationalize things and naturally to justify their behavior.

At the time of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash it wasn’t that people weren’t frum. On the contrary, on the surface there was a lot of outward religiosity. This outward religiosity was just that – a show. Somehow it was not reality.

Yirmiyahu Hanavi came and gave us a reality check. He came to tell us how Hashem perceived things. He told us how we actually left Hashem for other deities.

While the Haftorah is depressing, it is also the wakeup call we all need. Chazal tell us that any generation in which the Beis-Hamikdash isn’t rebuilt is as if the destruction happened to it. We live on sinning unconsciously like our forefathers and this week’s Haftorah is meant to shake us out of this behavior pattern, to wake us up to reality.

We must all reflect on how we live our lives and we must reevaluate whether we are faithful to Hashem or not. We must think about whether we are truly religious or whether we are merely justifying our actions to be able to view ourselves as Frum.

May we merit rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash in our days.