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Haftarah Discussions: Toledot

I. “The Masa of the word of God to Israel through the hands of Malachi: “I have shown love to you,” says God, but you say, “How have you shown love to us?” (Malachi 1:1) Malachi’s prophecy is introduced as Masa – a burden. Malachi’s prophecy was hard and demanding. The letters that spell Masa, also spell Asham – a sin. Then sinned when they asked, “How have you shown love to us?” (Avodat Yisrael – Yakar MiPaz) See Shevet M’Yehuda, Toledot: Questioning Suffering. Is there a difference between questioning suffering and asking how do we know that God loves us?

II. Malachi experienced his prophecy as a burden because it seems that God loves us simply because we behave better than does Eisav. The prophet is weighed down when he realizes that we should have achieved a level of goodness that will earn us God’s love as we are, not because we are better than others. (Divash Hasadeh, Page 35) What is the difference between striving to be better than others and striving to be our absolute best?

III. “Through the hands of Malachi.” Why is this prophecy described as through Malachi’s hands? The Sefat Emet (Yitro 5650) explains that “Hand” indicates place, as in something that is placed next to – at the hand – of something else. The level of prophecy is determined by the strength of the prophet’s soul and the location of its root in the Heavenly realm. Why would the prophet choose this specific prophet and prophecy to teach us this important idea about prophecy? Can it be that Malachi’s prophecy was determined by his context, his generation and his listeners? Do what degree does our behavior limit or expand the Divine influence on our leaders?

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