Haftorah Vayetze

Many verses are dedicated to this weeks Haftorah, from the book of Hosea, actually most weeks much of the Haftorot readings between the Sefardim and Askenasim overlap, however, the Sephardim begin the Haftorah from Chapter 11 (Hosea 11:7- 12:12), concluding the Haftorah in the middle of Chapter 12, which is the point to which the Ashkenazim start (Hosea 12:13-14:10), however I will reflect on both Haftorot to give a wide picture.

The Prophet starts off his message; one of the opening verses of the Haftorah states 'They will follow after Hashem, like a lion, he will roar, for he will roar (Hosea 11:10),' the prophet describes how the Jews throughout history have followed G-d, roaring after the Mitzvot and the Torah. In fact, Yehudah was born in this weeks Parshah from Leah (Bereishit 29:35), who would later on be given the Kingship of Israel, leading Israel through thick and thin, it was Yaakov who in his blessings before he departed from the world, compared Yehudah to a lion (Bereishit 49:9), just as Lion is the king of all animals, Yehudah was the Kingdom over the Jewish people, since King David, King Shlomo e.t.c... were all the Kings over Israel!

The prophet criticizes the children of Ephraim, who were actually the head of the '10 Tribes,' who branched off Yehudah during the early years of the First Temple, they were very steeped in Idolatry, which eventually resulted in there exile from Israel (Kings I 11:31). We see the birth of all of these 10 tribes in this weeks reading, however they were to leave Israel during the First Temple era.

The prophet gives off a stern message also to Yehudah; describing how they would be paid back for any transgressions they could cause (Hosea 12:3). Unfortunately also throughout history, the Jews, many of them descending from Yehudah have seen much problem. This could be partly down to their transgressions and not heeding to the word of G-d.

In the Parshah, we see numerous references to Lavan, cheating Yaakov (Bereishit Rabba 71:2), whether through switching his wages or deceiving Yaakov's wedding preparations, marrying him off to the wrong wife (Bereishit 29:22-25)! So too in this weeks Haftorah, the Kingdom of Israel is accused of practicing the bad practices of the Canaanites (Hosea 12:8-9).

As the Ashkenazim start reading the Haftorah, there is another connection to the Torah reading, we see in the Parshah, Yaakov running away to Charan, the area where he would meet his future wives, Leah and Rachel, whom he had to work for, for 14 years worth of hard labor. We see reference to this, as the verse states 'Yaakov fled to the field of Aram and labor did Israel for a wife and for a wife he guarded (Hosea 12:13).'
The prophet repeatedly stresses how bad Idol worship is, we should only believe in one G-d. G-d is our savior and just as the Torah stresses many times how in his mercy he took us out of slavery from Egypt and has been our savior since the creation of the Jewish people, the prophet reconfirms this stating that G-d is our saviour (Hosea 13:4).

When the Jewish nation demanded a King, they did it for the wrong purposes, to be like the other nations (Shmuel I 8:6), the Jewish nation should have asked for a King, so that the King could direct the nation to Hashem, to acts in his way's, however they wanted it for the wrong reasons, and the prophet relates how he gave a King at the end to the Jews, in anger (Hosea 13:11), since they asked for the King for the wrong reasons. One should always try and do things in their life for the correct reasons and not just for pride or glory!

The power of repenting is great, in fact the Talmud states how there is always hope, even for people totally evil (Eruvin 21), Hosea gives the people hope, stating how they should pray to Hashem, asking for forgiveness from all transgressions (Hosea 14:3)! We see the birth of Reuven in this weeks reading (Bereishit 29:32), he reached phenomenal levels of repentance for the sin of moving his fathers bed (Bereishit 35:22). In fact when the brothers were busy selling Yosef, Reuven was pleading to G-d for forgiveness from his sins.

The Haftorah concludes stating how the righteous walk in the correct ways and how the wicked stumble on the way to what they are trying to achieve (Hosea 14:10). The Talmud actually relates that the best time to challenge the wicked is when they are not doing well (Berachot 7), just as when Haman had his downfall in the Purim story, Esther invited him to the banquet, knowing it would trigger Achashvairous's jealousy, which would lead to Haman's death (Megilla 15)!

Shabbat Shalom!