Haftaras Tzav

This week’s haftarah consists of a prophecy of rebuke from Yirmiyah 7 and some verses of moral counsel from Yirmiyah 9. The selection from Yirmiyah 7 ends as follows (verse 34): “I will abolish from the cities of Yehudah and from the streets of Yerushalayim the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a ruin.” The Maggid asks what role is played in this verse by the phrase “voice of.” In another prophecy of rebuke, Yirmiyahu states similarly (verse 16:9): “Behold I am abolishing from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.” Again, we can wonder about the role of the seemingly superfluous phrase “voice of.” Moreover, the phrase “before your eyes” also seems superfluous, so we need to figure out the role of this phrase. Similarly, in a parallel prophecy of redemption, Yirmiyahu states (verses 33:10-11): “Again will be heard … the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.” Here once again, we can wonder what is added by the phrase “voice of.” We only wish that Hashem would bless us so that in our hearts we would always be filled with joy.
The Maggid answers his questions as follows. Typically, when a person experiences a happy event, the degree to which he expresses his joy depends on the circumstances of the people around him. If the people around him are happy, he can rejoice openly, making noise like the crash of cymbals, and it will not seem out of place to others. But if the people around him are in sorrow, he cannot rejoice openly, but instead must keep his rejoicing private. This is the idea underlying Yirmiyahu’s use of the phrase “voice of.” In the prophecies of rebuke, Yirmiyahu warns the Jewish People that if they continue in their sinful ways, Hashem will beset them with a period of calamity. During this period, individuals may sometimes experience happy events, so that joy will not be completely eliminated, but it will be necessary to refrain from expressing joy in public – before the eyes of others. And correspondingly, in the prophecy of redemption, Yirmiyahu promises that a time will come when it will be possible to rejoice in the open. In a similar vein, Yirmiyah states elsewhere in Hashem’s Name (verse 31:3): “I will yet rebuild you and you will be rebuilt, O Maiden of Yisrael; once again you will adorn yourself with your drums and go forth in the dance of merrymakers.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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