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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Woman: The Image of Redemption

Awake, awake!
Dress up in your vigor, Zion!
Dress up in your garments of glory, Jerusalem,
City of holiness… (Isaiah 52:1)

Shake yourself from the dust!
Arise and be seated [on your throne], Jerusalem!
Loosen your neck chains,
Captive daughter of Zion! (Isaiah 52:2)

The above is a citation from one of a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.

The Prophet Yeshayahu delivers his message of redemption by employing the metaphor of a woman freeing herself from the chains of captivity and like a queen, arrayed in her royal robes, rises again onto her throne.

Other prophets echo Yeshayahu’s dramatic call, employing almost identical images of woman in predicting the imminent arrival of Redemption. The Navi Zephania addresses the inhabitants of the capital as “Daughter of Yerushalayim!” (3:14).

The Prophet Zecharia delivers the Divine message to the Children of Israel by proclaiming:

“Rejoice and exult, Daughter of Zion,
Because I shall live in your midst!” .2:11)

And somewhat further:

“Sing out with joy, Daughter of Zion,
Cry out with delight, Daughter of Yerushalayim!”(.9:9)

The Navi Micha similarly addresses the inhabitants of Yehuda awaiting redemption as “Daughter of Zion” and compares them to a woman first trembling in the pangs of labor but soon delighting in the birth of her child (4:9-14).

In Hoshea’s prophecy, the divine promise is true love as between bride and groom:

“And I shall betroth you to me for eternity,
And I shall betroth you to me with righteousness,
And with justice and love and compassion;
And I shall betroth you to me with faith,
And you shall know G-d” ( 2:21-25).

Is there a vision of passionate attachment more evocative than the love of a young bride for her bridegroom? What imagery has the freshness and vitality like a young woman’s first love? This is the bond to which the prophet compares the love of Israel for his G-d during the early days of their relationship in the desert.

“I remember the love of your youth,
The devotion of your betrothal,
Your following me in the desert,
In a land of wilderness…” (Yermiyahu 2:2)

Those were the days of the honeymoon when the young nation of Israel in the first flushes of freedom from slavery committed itself to G-d in the nuptial ceremony of Sinai.

And now, upon entering the Promised Land, the prophet reminds the people of Israel of G-d’s love and foretells their eventual redemption.

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