Haftaras Eikev

This week’s haftarah, the second of the haftaros of consolation, begins as follows (Yeshayah 49:14):
Zion said: “Hashem has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” … [Hashem replies:] “Can a woman forget her suckling child (ulah)?”
The Gemara in Berachos 32b expounds on this verse as follows:
Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: “Can I possibly forget the burnt-offerings (olos), fire-offerings, and firstborn offerings that you brought before Me in the wilderness?” [Said the Jewish People to Hashem:] “Master of the Universe! Since there is no forgetfulness before Your throne of glory, perhaps you will not forget the episode of the calf.” He said back to them (ibid. 49:15, homiletically): “‘Indeed, “this” shall be forgotten’” [Literally, these (eileh). The reference is to the declaration the Jewish People made about the golden calf: “This (eileh) is your god, O Israel”]. They then said to Him: “Master of the Universe! Since there is forgetfulness before Your throne of glory, perhaps You will forget the episode at Sinai [i.e., the acceptance of the Torah].” He said back to them (ibid.): “‘Yet “I” shall not forget you’” [i.e., the “I” of the First Commandment]. This is in line with what R. Elazar said in the name of R. Oshaia: “What is being spoken about in the phrase ‘Indeed, “this” shall be forgotten’? The episode of the golden calf. ‘Yet “I” shall not forget you’? The episode at Sinai.” 
The Maggid interprets this Gemara in several ways. One of them builds on a Midrash in Shir HaShirim Rabbah. In Shir HaShirim 8:6 it is written: “Place me as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm – that love is as strong as death, that jealousy is as harsh as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire – the Divine flame.” The Midrash remarks (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 8:6, end): “It is like the fire of Heaven – the fire does not annihilate water, and water does not extinguish the fire.”
The Maggid explains as follows. The Jewish People’s acceptance of the Torah at Sinai led Hashem to harbor a strong love toward them. And their sin with the golden calf led Hashem to harbor a harsh anger toward them. Neither of these annhilated the other – they both remained intact. Hashem loves us on account of the covenant at Sinai, and is also furious with us on account of the sin of the golden calf. Hashem, unlike a mortal man, is capable of fully maintaining opposite perspectives simultaneously. Thus, the love and the fury coexist. Yet, in His kindness, Hashem shunts aside the sin of the golden calf, and focuses His attention on the covenant at Sinai.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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