Monday, November 07, 2005


Haftorah for Noach

From the book of Isaiah, Ch. 55 (JPS Translation):

1. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye for water, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your gain for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

What does this exactly mean? What does it mean to "buy without money"? Why should we not spend money, money which we have earned, on things which do not satisfy us? Why would we spend money this way that Isaiah even needs to tell us this?

What does this exhortation say about the assumptions of free market theory? That they do not make sense -- as we do not spend on what we want? That they are immoral as we ought to only spend based on needs rather than wants and that anyway what we earn is not really ours to freely decide how to spend?

How does this passage relate to the distinction between different kinds of sacrifices made in my last post?

4. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a prince and commander to the peoples. 5. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee; because of HaShem thy G-d, and for the Holy One of Israel, for He hath glorified thee.

Is this merely saying we Jews are "chosen" or is it saying something else? If so, what?

6. Seek ye HaShem while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near; 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts; and let him return unto HaShem, and He will have compassion upon him, and to our G-d, for He will abundantly pardon

Why wouldn't one be able to find God? Relating to discussion on Adventus, note that God will abundantly pardon -- the Jewish teaching is certainly that God forgives all who truly repent and make restitution: God cannot create a rock which He cannot lift. The rituals of Judaism are not sacriments (relation to sacrifice is ... ?) performed so as to allow us to be in a state to receive God's Grace but rather are part of a path which God has showed us in His Grace. OTOH, accepting God's love is, as I have previously pointed out, non-trivial and rather difficult.

Also, note the voluntary nature here -- we cannot force the wicked not to be wicked. We cannot legislate morality. But what we can and must do is provide an environment where people can be moral. There is no Torah without Sustainance -- so we must, at least, provide a safety net (as a society -- not merely as individuals) so that people can be moral. We must enforce standards of law and order and the due process of law so people are not making Hobson's choices every day. We must protect our environment, our work places, etc., so people can thrive. We must not interfere with religion nor force our religious expressions on others who must be allowed to find their own morality. But we must allow rather than force the wicked to return. But at some level we have to trust that people will do what is moral: we cannot force them to do so. If morality is merely performed because it is legislated by Man rather than made obligatory by God, when someone does do the moral thing, have they truly returned to God?

Getting beyond the actual Haftorah for Noach but yet more to ponder (and relating to rain and hence the Flood -- and in the wake of weather related natural disasters -- how to they bring food? what is really the nature, pace Dagobert Runes, of the circle of life? is it really Godly?):

8. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith HaShem. 9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, except it water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11. So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, except it accomplish that which I please, and make the thing whereto I sent it prosper. 12. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to HaShem for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off

I thought thhe JPS translation didn't use "HaShem"? Or is that bit from another translation?

The siddur I use personally is an ArtScroll interlinear, and it does indeed use "HaShem"; I just substitute in my head when i read that.
I forgot to get the date for this translation -- it is an older JPS translation. I found it on the internets.
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