So, dear friends, to work!

Friday, 29 July, 2016 - 5:42 am


Dear Friends, 

Since the last day of Pesach the Shabbos Parasha readings have differed between Eretz Yisrael and outside of it. 
For instance, this coming Shabbat we, outside of Eretz Yisrael, will be reading Parashat Pinchas, whereas in Eretz Yisrael Parashat Matot will be read. 
On the other hand, this week we will be reading the same Haftara, since we are in the days of Bein Hametzarim (the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av – Tisha B’Av – when we mourn the destruction of the Temple). All of us will, therefore, be reading a Haftara that is connected to the time of year, and not to the Parasha. 
And so, this week’s Haftara is from the book of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) – about Yirmiyahu, the prophet of the destruction, who was sent to warn the Jewish People and try to convince them to forsake their bad ways. 
With candor, and in rich and graphic language such as one can find only in the Tanach, Yirmiyahu describes how Hashem told him that he is to be a prophet: “The word of Hashem came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you left the womb I sanctified you; I established you as a prophet unto the nations.’” In simple words: I’ve known you since before you were created – even then I knew – in fact, I determined – that you would be a prophet to the nations.
But Yirmiyahu, like Moshe Rabbeinu, tried to evade the mission, claiming, “Alas, Hashem Elokim, I do not know how to speak, for I am just a youth!” And Hashem answered him, as Yirmiyahu goes on to tell us in Passuk 8: “Do not fear… for I am with you.”
Thus Yirmiyahu Hanavi began his life-long mission, forty-one years before the destruction of the Temple. 
This story isn’t just a fascinating piece of history. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was particular to connect everything to our own lives, and he took those Pesukim and made them relevant to each and every one of us. 
Hashem is actually telling us: You have a mission to accomplish. Use the powers that you have and do good to the world around you. And if you ask, “Who, me? Who am I?!” your Creator will tell you: “Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you left the womb I sanctified you.” I know who you are! I’ve known you since before you were born! You can do it!
You might try to refuse, saying that you are “a youth” – how can I cope with the world around me? But then your Father in Heaven will tell you: “Do not fear… for I am with you.”
And so, dear friends, to work!
Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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