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This first haftarah of admonition is, all in all, not so horrible. It is still very much in a "get your act together, for trouble is coming, but G"d will protect you." There's not even a "if you return to/do not forsake G"d's ways" clause attached. It is as though G"d has forgotten all of Israel's stubbornness and recalcitrance. In opposition to Hosea's metaphor of a cuckolded husband and Israel as whore, Jeremiah has G"d reminiscing over Israel's devotion, their love for G"d as if a bride. (2:2) G"d even has Jeremiah say, in G"d's name that accounted to Israel's favor was how they followed G"d in the wilderness (2:2.) Verse 3 is the topper.
"Kodesh Yisrael La"Ad*nai, reishit t'vuato" Israel was Holy to Ad"nai, the first fruits of (G"d's) harvest.
So the Israelites are compared to the offering gift of the first fruits. Then, those who would eat/devour Israel are like those who profaned the first fruits by eating from them, and they shall bear the (bad) consequences of their actions.
So why is this a "haftarah of admonition?" Seems the only ones being admonished here are those who would attack Israel. Why not begin with the haftarah chosen for the second haftarah of admonition, from the 2nd chapter of Jeremiah, which is a truly accusatory and damning diatribe against Israel.
If I learn anything from this haftarah, it is a reminder that viewing just small pieces of our sacred text without surrounding context (i.e. what comes before and what comes after) may not be the best way to look at things. It is also a reminder of the power of rhetorical tools and devices. Just as Hosea uses a methodology that gets our attention up front-sort a "shock and awe"- Jeremiah uses another tactic-lull us into a sense of security, and then let us have it. I'll admit that, separated by a week, it might not have the same impact as when chapters 1 and 2 are read contiguously, but impact it will have, nevertheless.
So our first week of admonition will pass without much admonishing. Take advantage of the moment, for next week it won't be so easy.
Shabbat Shalom, Adrian ©2009 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some Other Musings on this parasha
Pinkhas 5768 - Still Zealous After all These
Pinhas 5766-Let's Give Moshe a Hand
Pinkhas 5765-Kol D'mamah Dakah
Pinchas 5762 -- I Still Get Zealous
Pinchas 5764/5760-It Just Is!
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