Haftaras Haazinu

In years like the present one, when there is a Shabbos between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, parashas Haazinu is read on this Shabbos, and the haftarah is the song David HaMelech composed to praise Hashem for delivering him from his enemies (Shmuel Beis 22, also appearing, with a few slight differences, as Tehillim 18). David HaMelech declares (Shmuel Beis 22:36): “You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your humility has made me great.” The version in Tehillim 18:36 contains an additional phrase; after the word salvation it is written, “Your right hand supported me.” The Midrash remarks (Bereishis Rabbah 48:1): “You have given me the shield of Your salvation – this relates to Avraham. Your right hand supported me – in the fiery furnace, in the period of famine, and in the war against the kings.” In last year’s d’var Torah, we presented one of the Maggid’s comments on this Midrash. We now present a follow-up, taken from Ohel Yaakov, parashas Toldos.
Just before Yaakov left home to go to Charan, Yitzchak granted him the “blessing of Avraham.” The Maggid discusses the nature of this blessing. He describes two modes that Hashem employs in providing a person with his needs. The first method is through direct support, by miraculous means, as if the person were a child sitting at his father’s table. The second method is through an endowment, whereby the person receives the means to procure his support “on his own” through natural effort.
Initially, Avraham was supported through miraculous means. The Midrash reflects this fact, listing some instances in which Hashem performed a miracle for Avraham. One instance was the episode of the fiery furnace: Hashem performed a miracle to enable Avraham to emerge from the fire unscathed. A second instance was in the period of the famine: Avraham went to Egypt to escape the famine, Pharaoh abducted Sarah, and Hashem afflicted him with a miraculous sickness to induce him to release her. A third instance was the war against the kings: Hashem performed a miracle to enable Avraham’s small contingent to defeat the large combined army of the four kings. But later, when Avraham reached old age, Hashem blessed him with “everything,” handing over to him the mechanism for generating blessing through natural effort, and enabling him, so to speak, to tend to his needs on his own.
Avraham passed this mechanism on to Yitzchak, and Yitzchak passed it on to Yaakov. But when Yaakov had to flee to Charan to escape Eisav, it was no longer appropriate for him to be “on his own” – rather, he would need to be under Hashem’s direct support, as Avraham had been previously. Thus, just before Yaakov departed, Yitzchak blessed him: “May He grant you the blessing of Avraham” – the blessing of direct Divine support.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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