Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

The connection between our parsha and the haftara is an interesting one. In the parsha the evil prophet Bilaam provides a vision of the end time, with a focus on the outcomes of noteworthy nations including Israel and some of our more implacable foes. The haftara also examines this scenario, but internal to our frame of reference. The fate of Israel at first still seems ambiguous, the nations are divided neatly into those who have learned to value the Jews – the remnant of Yaakov, and those who have struggled against us through the ages.

Abarbanel says that for this reason the haftara begins with the repetition across two pesukim of the phrase “and the remnant of Yaakov will be…” (Micha 5:6-7) The first verse finds us in the midst of great nations; in the second verse we are mixed up among the peoples in the midst of great nations. For the first group of great nations we are like life-sustaining dew, bringing about bounty and abundance. For the second group, that Abarbanel identifies with the hostile nations besieging Yerushalayim. We are like beasts of prey destroying the might of their armies.

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The verse following these gives cryptic instruction to place your hand upon the ones who afflict you and obliterate all your enemies. It then describes how Hashem will humble and deplete all of our defenses on that day follow this. On the surface this seems unsettling. Abarbanel explains that Hashem is removing all of the physical bulwarks we erected as we won’t need war horses or fortresses and encampments anymore. Hashem will fight for us and we will bear witness to His miracles.

In the second part of the haftara the navi describes physical and geographical wonders that are to be impacted by the miraculous nature of our redemption at the end time. The commentary of the Rokeach on the haftara reads into these a triumphal progression of historical leaders and founders of Israel who will behold the final wonders that they prayed for and sacrificed in their own lifetimes so that Israel could be free. The mountains, he says, are the forefathers and the hills that hear the voice are the mothers.

The “battles” of Hashem (mentioned in Micha 6:2) that the forefathers will observe are struggles over the correct interpretation of halacha, the numerical value of the battles (with the word “et” in front of it) is 613, the same as the number of mitzvot. The resolute ones that stand tall over the land are the experts in Torah law (“eitanim” is an anagram for tena’im), masters of oral law. The salient point of the navi Micha – in contrast to the message of Bilaam – is that when the time comes for Hashem to redeem His people, all of the historical forces and all of the races and cultures of humanity will fall into line as part of the divine plan. Everything in creation will either become an agent of our redemption, or an example of the defeat of the wicked, as scores are settled once and for all with those who oppressed us.

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Avraham Levitt is a poet and philosopher living in Philadelphia. He has written on Israeli art, music, and spirituality and is working to reawaken interest in medieval Jewish mysticism. He can be reached at avraham@thegeula.com.