Tuesday, May 31, 2016

haftarah of Behar -- left hanging with a question

In the haftarah for P' Behar Yirmiyahu is told by Hashem to buy a plot of land from his relative and to deposit the deed, the shtar, in a jug for safekeeping.   Yirmiyahu then speaks to Hashem, and we have a few pesukim of introductory shevach before he gets to the point.  According to some minhagim, the haftarah ends right after the shevach concludes, at pasuk 32:22, and we in fact never actually get to hear the point Yirmiyahu was driving at.

The more prevalent minhag (at least from what I heard) is to continue for a few more pesukim.  In those added pesukim Yirmiyahu asks G-d a question: Bnei Yisrael are about to be exiled from their land by the Kasdim.  The enemy will lay waste to Eretz Yisrael and there will be mass destruction.  What's the point of storing away this deed to land?  There will be no one left in the land, there will be no one to claim the property.  Who is this record meant for?  If you look up this chapter in the navi, Hashem gives a rather lengthy response; however, the haftarah concludes at 32:26 with only one pasuk of that long answer: "Hinei ani Hashem Elokei kol basar, ha'mimeni yipalei kol davar?" 

The halacha says that ideally a haftarah should be at least 21 pesukim long (to correspond to 7 aliyos x a minimum of 3 pesukim each from the parsha), so there is a halachic logic to extending the haftarah to 32:26 so that it passes the 21 pasuk threshold.  However, from a literary perspective, we are left hanging.  Yirmiyahu has just raised a powerful question -- why not tell us G-d's answer?  Why leave us dangling and give us just one pasuk, just a taste of the message that is to come?

My guess is that "Ha'mimeni yipalei kol davar?" is all we need in a nutshell and all the rest is commentary.  If Hashem can do anything, then it should be no wonder if He can promise that the land which will desolate for years will ultimately be reclaimed.

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