Visit us at www.torontotorah.com
mouths of adults. Also… the entire nation gathers in
synagogues and study halls to hear the message of the text,and the leaders will guide them and teach them wisdom."One might be surprised at the need for a command to rest,in addition to the prohibition against performing melachah. To explain this, Ramban (Vayikra 23:24) wrote, "We arebiblically instructed to rest on Yom Tov even from actionsthat do not involve melachah. We should not strain all day in measuring grain, weighing produce and gifts, fillingbarrels with wine, and moving implements and even stones
from one house to another… the market would be filled with
all manner of commerce, and the store would be open andthe owner would keep a tab and the moneychangers wouldbe at their tables with the gold coins before them, and theworkers would rise early for work and would hirethemselves out as on weekdays for these and similar
tasks… Thus the Torah declared ‘Shabbaton,’ a day of
ceasing and rest, not a day of strain."
The first day of Pesach [the first two outside of Israel], andthe seventh day of Pesach [the seventh and eighth outside of Israel], are treated as Shabbat-like days, when a Jew is notallowed to engage in melachah [creative tasks which mirrorthose practiced in building the mishkan]. This is stressed inthe Torah with a command to rest (#297 for the first day,#300 for the seventh day), as well as a prohibition againstengaging in melachah (#298 for the first day, #301 for theseventh day).As the Sefer haChinuch pointed out, halting our melachahbrings great benefit: "So that Israel will remember the greatmiracles G-d performed for them and for their ancestors, andwill speak of them and inform their children andgrandchildren of them, for as a result of their cessation of worldly involvement they will be free to involve themselveswith this. If they were permitted to engage in melachah, evenlight melachah, then each person would turn to hisinvolvements, and the honour of the holiday would beforgotten from the mouths of children, and even from the
Haftorah: Yeshayah 54:1-55:5
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner
Who is the prophet of our haftorah?
Yeshayah (Isaiah) was a prophet in theperiod leading up to the exile of the tennorthern tribes of Yisrael by theAssyrians. He lived in the southernkingdom of Yehudah, and heprophesied during the reigns of KingsUziahu, Yotam, Achaz and Chizkiyahu.According to the Talmud (Sotah 10a),he was a descendant of Yehudah and Tamar.As the Talmud (Bava Batra 15a) informsus, the book of Yeshayah was compiledby King Chizkiyahu and associates of his. The prophecies of Yeshayah may beclassified in two categories, Rebuke andRedemption; the former dominates theearly chapters of the book, while thelatter occupies the latter portion. Thesplit is not clean, though; portions of the former include redemption, andportions of the latter include rebuke.
What is the message of our haftorah?
This haftorah is actually read twiceduring the year; it is the haftorah forParshat Noach, but it is also thehaftorah for Parshat Ki Tetze, as part of the series of seven haftarot of consolation following Tishah b'Av. The prophet envisions the Jewishpeople as a childless woman and adistressed pauper; the former reflectsloss of our physical future due to theassaults of the enemy, and the latterreflects loss of hope due to our greatsuffering. Yeshayah tells the childlesswoman to expand her tent, for she willproduce children who will spread farand wide. To the distressed pauper,Yeshayah promises glorious wealthand children of piety and peace.Yeshayah also makes demands uponthe Jewish nation. To earn this exaltedfuture, we must practice righteousnessand distance ourselves fromcorruption. When we are thirsty, weshould seek the water of Torah; whenwe lack silver for bread, we shouldpursue Divine wisdom. This will be thepath by which we earn Divinesplendour.
What is the connection between ourhaftorah and the parshah?
Yeshayah cites a Divine promise toprotect the Jewish people following thedestruction which will come at thehands of the Babylonians. Yeshayahcompares this Divine pledge to the oneprovided after the flood described inour parshah: "As I have sworn not tobring the waters of Noach again, so Ihave sworn not to become angry at youand not to rebuke you." (54:9)A careful look at our parshah reveals adifference between these two oaths,though. The oath to Noah is not givenfreely; only after Noach brings akorban, demonstrating generosity andreversing the selfish violence whichhad triggered the flood, does G-dpromise not to flood the world again.In our case, G-d offers the promiseeven before we demonstrate ourrehabilitation
indeed, even beforeNevuchadnezzar demolishes the BeithaMikdash!
knowing that we arecapable of meeting Divineexpectations.
A lesson in faith
In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 100a), RabbiYochanan elaborates upon Yeshayah'spromise of future wealth. A studentmocks Rabbi Yochanan's prediction of gargantuan gems adorning the gates of Jerusalem, until he goes to sea anddiscovers angels carving just suchgems. Upon returning home, thestudent acknowledges the veracity of Rabbi Yochanan's lesson, but thisstudent's need for visual proof is aninsult to his mentor. As the Talmudreports it, Rabbi Yochanan turns hiseyes to the student, and the studentbecomes a "pile of bones".Rabbeinu Nisim of Gerona, a greatfourteenth century Spanish sage, sawin this story a lesson regarding the roleof our sages. We understand thatscholars are invested with authority over our legal system, if only toprevent chaos. Regarding such non-legal matters as eschatologicalpredictions, though, we might thinkourselves free to make our ownexegetical way. This talmudic accountseems to say otherwise; one whomocks the words of the sages, even onthese matters, does so at his own peril.
613 Mitzvot: #297-298, 300-301
Resting on Pesach
Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner