Ki Tetzei

"For the mountains may move and hills be shaken but my loyalty shall never move " Isaiah 54:10


"When you go out to war against your enemies", the Torah says (Deuteronomy 21:10). Here in the UK we don't need to "go out", it is sufficient to stay at home watching, listening and reading the news on our phones, newspapers, radios and TVs. We are automatically involved in war by just being Jews and some of us have experienced some kind of attack even here.

The voices of the media clamour loudly: "Sixty-three per cent question the future of Jews in the UK", "Beginning of end for European Jewry", "Life will become inconvenient", "Don't stand out".

The prophet of this week's haftarah - the fifth of the haftarot of consolation - gives orders which sound like military commands: "Shout!", "Enlarge!", "Extend!", "Lengthen!", Fear not!" The prophet fights against entrenched attitudes. Do not think the reality experienced is the ultimate truth, he advises.

Do you think we should derive our values and goals from what we experience today? Both sidrah and haftarah develop attitudes from the ultimate source of life, God.

Even in times when it looks as if we were forsaken by all good, the haftarah invites to base our actions on justice, love, hope and trust: "'For a little while I forsook you, but with vast love I will bring you back... For the mountains may move and the hills be shaken, but my loyalty shall never move from you, nor my covenant of friendship be shaken,' says the Eternal One, who takes you back in love."

The most powerful words in this week's haftarah as well as in our everyday lives may therefore be just two tiny words: "Fear not!"

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