The Silversmith-Haftarah Shabbat HaGadol
The verse in Malachi immediately preceding the beginning of this week’s Haftarah reads, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to God and offering in righteousness and (Malachi 3:2–3).”
A man wanted to learn more about the process of refining silver to better understand these verses. He went to a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. As he watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up.
He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest to burn away all the impurities. The man reflected on God holding us in such a hotspot. He thought again about the verse, that God sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
He asked the silversmith if it were true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. if this silver were left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The man was silent for a moment, then asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
He smiled and answered, “Oh, that’s easy; when I see my image in it.”
When we speak of God as the Refiner, although we may remember that the refiner holds the silver in the hottest spot, He keeps His eyes on that which is precious every moment to prevent it from being damaged, and He holds it carefully He can see until His own image in it; in us.
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