Shabbat Devarim 5777

In just a few days, we will commemorate Tish’ah B’Av, a day of mourning for cumulative national trauma. Most notably, we remember the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. The hurban represents not only the demolition of a building, but of the sovereign society at whose epicenter the Temple stood.
But we are here to commemorate it, which means that while the institution fell, a remnant escaped. Ancient societies couldn’t guarantee that, though; if they were ever attacked, their downfall could well be complete. That’s the message in the words of the prophet Yeshayahu that we read as the haftarah this week, knows as Shabbat Hazon for the passage’s opening word.
“Had not the LORD of Hosts left us some survivors, we should be like Sodom, another Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9). In what way does the prophet sense that his Jerusalem audience is like Sodom and Gomorrah? On the surface, it seems that Isaiah is noting that Judah will be lucky if it dodges the fate of utter destruction that befell Sodom. But he doesn’t stop there: “Hear the word of the LORD, you chieftains of Sodom; give ear to our God’s instruction, you folk of Gomorrah!” (1:10). Apparently, he believes that the analogy to Sodom goes beyond the threats Jerusalem faces. In what way does he think Jerusalem can be like Sodom? And what are the implications of making such an analogy? We will address this further on Shabbat morning.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise