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.
HAFTARAT ROSH HASHANA (DAY 1)
(I Samuel 1:1-2:10)
More than the birthday of the world, Rosh
Hashana celebrates the birthday of humanity. In
most cultures, the sense of time harks back to the pivotal event of their past. So Christianity counts time from the birth of its
savior, whereas Islam counts time from the success of its prophet. Judaism is distinguished by the fact that for over
a millennia it has counted time from the creation of all.
This universalist posture is well reflected in the annual practice of
commemorating the birth of humanity. Typically,
we do not celebrate the birth of humanity just in general, but through the birth of
individuals such as that of Isaac in the Torah reading and Samuel in the Haftarah
In commemorating the birth of Isaac and
Samuel, we also celebrate the motherhood of Sarah and Hannah. Both Sarah and Hannah were each the favorite,
albeit barren wife. Sarah was wedded to the
first biblically mentioned prophet, Abraham, and Hannah gave birth to the prophet, Samuel. Through the birth of Sarah's son, Isaac, the
covenant was sustained; through the birth of Hannah's son, Samuel, the monarchy and the
messianic line were consecrated.
Although Sarah was the first matriarch, it
was Hannah who became the paragon of prayer. She
set the standard for heartfelt prayer. More
rules of liturgy and devotion are derived from her prayerful experience than from any
other biblical personage. God's reply to her
prayers sets the tone for our pleas on Rosh Hashana.
The various links between birth and
motherhood along with that of divine solicitude are summed up superbly in Isaiah's simile
of consolation: "As a mother comforts
her child, so will I comfort you, says the Lord."
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