Shabbat Shalom! This week's Torah portion is Parashat Eikev. I like to think of all of Deuteronomy basically as Moses’s exit interview to the People of Israel. In this parasha, he reminds them that they have been annoying and whiny from day 1 and that God sent manna from Heaven for their sustenance, because "man does not live on bread alone".
The Haftarah from Isaiah 49 connects because it too reminds the Jewish people that they have been difficult but that God provides for them anyway. This Haftarah is also chosen for this point in the year, because it is one of the seven haftarot of consolation following Tisha B'Av. Isaiah is prophesying that the people exiled after the fall of Jerusalem (which happens on Tisha B'Av) will worry that God has abandoned them, but Isaiah them that God loves God’s people as a mother loves her children, even when they are in time-out.
*Read first five lines of Haftarah*
These seven weeks of consolation lead us right to Rosh HaShanah. This is like an additional Omer period. Just as we count the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, meditating on the kabbalistic realms as they relate to freedom and revelation, we now count these seven weeks between Tisha B’Av and Rosh HaShanah, meditating on the kabbalistic realms as they relate to destruction and rebuilding, consequence and repentance.
This week’s Haftarah teaches us that redemption is always possible, when our foundations are goodness. We all make mistakes and have to live with the consequences, which sometimes are really rough. It is difficult to live a life with truly no regrets. But with goodness at our foundations, we are able to see the error of our ways and amend them. This season, may we complete the full meaning of teshuvah – to repent and to return, to live in love even where there is strife, and to acknowledge that it takes so much more to sustain our lives than mere bodily nutrition.
Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, the founder of Jewish Renewal, taught: There are four fundamental layers of understanding the Torah. There are four or more layers of understanding our life. Try to be vulnerable, to open up instead of closing down. Let loving-kindness from the soul’s foundation wash our inner temple. Today there are 36 days left until erev Rosh HaShannah, which is 5 weeks and 1 day, Chesed Sheb’ Yesod, kindness in foundations. Please let us be vessel for the Divine light and help to align us with Holiness. May this period of Sefirat HaBinyan and the New Year be for good, for peace and for blessing for all of Israel, for all inhabitants of the earth and let us say Amen.(Day kavanah by Menuhah Peters/prayer by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi & Gabbi Seth Fishman).