Haftorah This Week
Welcome to Haftorah This Week, the place where you will find thoughts and
reflections by CLAL faculty and associates on this week's Haftorah.
(Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6)
The three major events/messages of the Jewish people are: creation, revelation and
redemption. Creation is celebrated by Shabbat, redemption is celebrated at Pesach. Of the
three, revelation is the most difficult to understand and to translate. Shavuot, which
commemorates revelation, is neither widely observed nor very well- known. Moreover, the
idea of revelation is a much more obtuse and difficult concept for modern people than is
creation or redemption. What does it mean for a God to self-reveal? In Exodus, and later
in Deuteronomy, it means that God reveals his law amid thunder and lightning, fire and
clouds of smoke. Moses wishes to see the glory of God and is denied that rapture. Isaiah,
however, does see God in his vision. God is revealed to Isaiah standing upon a throne
surrounded by winged angels. Although these revelations of Exodus and of Isaiah seem to be
of very different subjects, they are intentionally associated by the tradition.
For the Vilna Gaon, the Torah is a blueprint of God's mind, and as such is the most
intimate of self-revelations. The Vilna Gaon suggests to us that the Torah is as much a
reflection of the godhead as is the Being which Isaiah beheld. Both visions are
accompanied with great awesome terror and with the demand to be holy. If creation is the
witness to God's authorship of the cosmos, and redemption is the witness to God's concern
for human history, then revelation is the witness to God's desire for relationship. It is
about God initiating intimacy with us, revealing in manifold ways which always ends up in
the form of a call to action. To be intimate with God is to become a partner in God's hope
for the world. Revelation is what makes us a nation of priests and a holy people.
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