Unraveller for Dec 18, 2015

Haftarah for Va-Yiggash
Ezekiel 37:15-28

December 18, 2015 / 6th of Tevet 5775

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Terms: Zadokite priest

Zadok was the high priest during the life of King David and Solomon (2 Sam. 20:25) (1 Kings 4:4) (1 Kings 4:2). During the rebellion of Absalom, Zadok gained great prominence. He and the Levites wished to accompany the fleeing David but the King begged them to remain at Jerusalem, where they could do him better service (II Sam. xv. 24-29;). Zadok and his contemporary, Abiathar acted as high priests (1 Chr. 15:11; 2 Sam. 15:24-29, 35, 36); but when Adonijah, another of David's sons rebelled against David and sought to secure the throne, Abiathar changed allegiences and supported him. Zadok remained faithful to David and ultimately became high priest. (1 Kings 2:27, 35; 1 Chr. 29:22). Zadok's descendents retained the high priesthood until the fall of Jerusalem.

Ezekial, son of Buzi, was a Zadokite priest who was deported to Babylon along with eight thousand other exiles in the year 593 B.C.E., prior to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. He prophesied between 593-588 B.C.E. He settled in Tel Abib (Mount of the Flood), a city located on the river Chebar southeast of Babylon where he received his call to prophecy. It is interesting to note that Ezekiel was living in Babylon when he learned of the Temple's destruction. It is also interesting to note that the exile preceded the Temple's destruction.

Ezekiel's prophecies can be divided into two sections. Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, his prophecies were directed against the Judeans who remained in the homeland. Immediately following its destruction, his prophecies changed to those offering spiritual consolation, national reunification and restoration of the religion of Israel. The Haftorah for Va-yiggash was written after he had learned of the Temple's destruction.

Ezekiel's ancestors achieved prominence when Israel was a unified undivided nation. His ancestors also witnessed the division of Israel into two kingdoms. Ezekiel lived during the time when what remained of his nation was a remanent of what it once had been. It is reasonable to think that his messsage would be one that fostered a desire to return to the homeland and for his broken people to be reunited. And so he speaks to us.

And you O mortal take a stick and write on it
Of Judah and the Israelites associated with him; and take another stick and write on it, 
Of Joseph-the stick of Ephraim-and all of the house of Israel associated with him and bring them together so they become one stick

It also makes sense that a priest would feel that restoration was dependent upon a national cleansing and purification. In order for return, redemption, and unification to occur, the people needed to turn to God, follow his rules, obey his laws, and cast off the forms of worship they had absorbed in exile.

Just as in the Torah Judah assumes the mantle of family leadership among his brothers and negotiates for the redemption of Benjamin. Just as Joseph's family is reunited in Egypt and shielded from a long and difficult famine; so too will our people be reunited in Israel as one stick, one people and God will once again make a covenant with them for all time.

Ezekiel's actions after the exile resonated with me and made me think of Herzl and Gandhi, and others who heard a voice, had a vision of what could occur and would not be silenced. 


This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of the FJMC and author of "Building A Successful Volunteer Culture: Finding Meaning in Service in the Jewish" Jewish Lights Publishing. 

Just off the press, "Biblical Leadership After Moses," contains a series of essays and stories. With the aid of current Biblical and archeological research the author, Rabbi Charles Simon, retells the stories of little known Biblical leaders raising questions about the nature of their leadership..  Click here to purchase from Amazon.com, either in paperback or Kindle format.  And as long as you're preparing to enhance the celebrating where Moses shows his leadership abilities, you can enhance your leadership skills with Rabbi Simon's book on Building a Successful Volunteer Cultureavailable at the FJMC Store.

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