25 March 2016

Parshat Tzav 5776: A Very Special Haftarah

15 Adar II 5776
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Shushan Purim

(H/T OU Torah Tidbits - Parshat Tzav)

Haftara 19 p'sukim Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3 and 9:22,23 

Okay. He's the TZAV story. Back on page 5, lower-left, we already told you that the last time we read the regular haftara of Parshat Tzav in Jerusalem, was 21 years ago. 

Outside of Yerushalayim, it was read 8 and 11 years ago. But not in Jerusalem. 

Check this out. In all PLAIN years (P'shuta, 1 Adar, 12 months), TZAV is the Shabbat before Pesach, making it Shabbat HaGadol, for which there is a special haftara, pre-empting Tzav's regular haftara. That already covers 63.16% of the years. 12 of every 19 years.

Among the 7 different types of M'UBERET (2 Adar, 13 months) years, sometimes Tzav is Zachor (6.66%) and sometimes it's Para (16.3%). 

Outside Jerusalem, that makes 86% of the time, Tzav's haftara is pre-empted. 14% of the years, it is read. That's an average of about once in seven years. 

In Jerusalem, Shabbat Purim is on Parshat Tzav in another year-type, bring the frequency of Tzav's haftara being pre-empted to 90%. That means that we read the regular haftara, on average, only once in ten years. 

But the year-types are not evenly distributed. In fact, as mentioned above, it has been 21 years since we read the regular haftara of Tzav in Jerusalem. Before that, we read it three years earlier. That shows you how irregular the distribution of year-types is. 

Finally, to the haftara. Read it and weep. A borrowed expression from poker and from a Disney movie, but sadly appropriate to this week's haftara. 

Attached to a sedra that speaks mainly of korbanot, the haftara via Yirmiyahu, castigates the people for getting it all wrong. Korbanot were not meant to give you the misplaced feeling of complacency that you can do anything you want, including alll kinds of corruption and sins, and think that the Beit HaMikdash and the korbanot brought there will guarantee that one will be automatically forgiven for any and all misdeeds. 

The hardest thing to read in the haftara is G-d's saying that He will suspend KOL SASON V'KOL SIMCHA, KOL CHATAN V'KOL KALLA from the people. It hurts to see that expression of great joy of a wedding being used to severely reproach the people. The phrase actually occurs four times in Tanach - only one of the four times does it have the promise of good and happy times. 

The haftara is so tough on the people of Israel, that we finish it with two p'sukim from a later chapter. Of these two concluding p'sukim, the first warns the wise not to be arrogant because of their wisdom, nor the strong with their strength, nor the wealthy with their weath. 

One can only be glorified in increased knowledge of HaShem. 

It's almost as if the odds against having this haftara are so high in order to spare us of its devastating message. May we be zocheh to better understanding and appreciation of G-d and His many qualities.  

~ Shabbat shalom ~