Haftarah Bamidbar: Experiencing God’s Love
Hosea 2:1-22 – In order for the prophet to properly serve in his role as teacher and rebuker, he first had to experience the depth of God’s love for Israel: Hosea had been quick in condemning Israel and saying to God, “All the world is Yours. If they are unworthy, exchange them for another nation!” (Pesachim 87a) God responds with a strange command, whether a vision or an actual command, for Hosea to marry Gomer, a harlot, and have children with her, even when he knew that she would be unfaithful to him. He could never be sure that the children were his.
Hosea named his children, again, as instructed by God, Jezreel, which means that God will gather in the exiles and plant hem in their land, Lo Ruchamah, which means ‘object of no mercy,” hinting that God would use Hosea’s approach of no mercy, and, Lo Ami, Not My People, for the Children of Israel were acting as if they were no longer God’s people.
God then commanded Hosea to send his wife and children away, but Hosea could not send away a woman and children he loved. “Your wife is a harlot whose children may not even be yours, yet you say that you cannot send them away! How can you urge Me to abandon Israel?”
This Haftarah is, just as the counting in this week’s portion, an expression of the deep and eternal love that God has for all of Israel and each individual member of His “Family.”
Even God’s rebukes and punishments are an expression of that deep and abiding love. Hosea teaches us that when we do not act as God desires, we are rejecting His love for us. We have an opportunity to live our lives with an awareness that all that God asks is an expression of His infinite love. Each commandment is an opportunity to experience His love. Hosea describes the history of Israel as a lesson in God’s love for us.
The prophet asks us to remember that everything we do as an expression of experiencing God’s love leads God to say, “I shall betroth you to Me forever; I shall betroth you to Me with righteousness, and with justice, and with kindness, and with mercy. I shall betroth you to Me with fidelity; and you shall know God.” (Verses 21-22)
Hosea is teaching us that as Moses and Aaron counted each Jew, the person experienced a connection with God that expressed betrothal. Each person learned that when he stood before God in prayer, he stood as God’s betrothed. Each “appointed” person appreciated that each Mitzvah he performed was an act of love as the betrothed of God. Every single person who was so counted experienced the Torah he studied as a love letter written just for him from God, to Whom he was betrothed.
This was the experience of the people counted one by one by Moses and Aaron. This can be the experience of every person who takes this prophecy to heart and prepares for Shavuot as an act of betrothal.