Haftarah: Behar: Nurturing Hope
Jeremiah 32:6-17: Even before Jeremiah’s cousin came to him for financial help in redeeming his ancestral land that he had to sell, God told the prophet that he was coming. Jeremiah knew that this was more than following the Torah law of redeeming a relative’s ancestral property; there would be a message for all of Israel, a message of redemption.
“So said God, Master of Legions, Lord of Israel: ‘Take these document, this bill of sale, the sealed one and this unsealed document, and place them in an earthenware vessel so that they will last many day.’ For so said God, Master of Legions, Lord of Israel; ‘Houses, fields, and vineyards will yet be bought in this land’ (Verses 13-15).”
Then, Jeremiah’s heart broke and he prayed, “You said to me, my Master, God, the Lord, ‘Buy for yourself a field with silver, and appoint witnesses;’ but the city has been handed over to the Chaldeans! (Verse 25).” Why are You asking me to do this, when the land is no longer ours? What’s the point? Why do You ask me to so carefully preserve these documents, when they will have no bearing once we are exiled?
“Then the word of God came to Jeremiah, saying: ‘Behold! I am God, the Lord of all flesh; is anything hidden from me?’ (Verses 26-27)” You are not buying the land for yourself. You are not redeeming the property because it will serve any immediate practical bearing. You are helping your cousin as a statement that I see all. I see the future. The sale and the documents are for Me, not the real estate court. They are a statement that I will redeem Israel’s land just as you redeemed your cousin’s.
God informed Jeremiah before his cousin arrived to teach the prophet that whenever a relative comes and asks for help in redeeming his property, the person is making a statement that there will be a future redemption. Each time that we help someone look forward to the future with hope, we are nurturing the idea of the future Redemption. We are making a statement that God sees all, and is guiding history in small steps and large.
We tend to focus on the immediate benefits our our acts of kindness. Jeremiah is teaching us that each Chesed nurtures hope, and nurturing hope is providing a connection to the future Redemption.