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.
(Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1)
Jeremiah here addresses the people in puzzlement and anger. Given what God has done for them, given the futility of the alternative, how can they possibly abandon the true God for other Gods? Such foolishness is, in Jeremiah's mind, incomprehensible.
The substance of Jeremiah's argument is this: God brought the people out of Egypt, protected them through a desert filled with dangers, and delivered them to a land of great abundance. Moreover, it is not in the nature of humans to abandon their gods. Even those many who worship non-gods, an act of utter futility, do not abandon them! How then can Israel, contrary to the lessons of their history and contrary to human nature, stray after other gods? Because, Jeremiah suggests, their "lust" is like that of a "she-camel"(Jer. 2:23) or a "wild ass whose passion none can restrain" (Jer. 2:24). Only abnormal lust could explain the foolishness of Israel's ways.
Jeremiah's accusation can be translated to address our own community: Jews have survived and been protected through centuries of threats, emerging to live and grow where others have passed away. Our tradition and teachings have provided us with comfort, solace and a sense of belonging where alternatives could not. The Torah offers us order, purpose and direction where the traditions of modernity offer mostly anomie and confusion. How then can we possibly go astray, abandoning purposefulness for futility? If Jeremiah's anthropology (the lust of Jews=the lust of she-camels) doesn't convince, we need to find another explanation. What quality in us has permitted us to behave so foolishly?
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