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 Yom Kippur Drasha 5761

Isaiah LVII: 14-21 and LVIII: 1-14
Haftorah for Yom Kippur morning, 5761
interpreted by Jim Haber with help from the Hertz Chumash and commentary

Isaiah LVII

14 [And G-d will say:]
    Get up, get up, clear from your hearts that which blocks your redemptive nature and makes you stumble on the path of righteousness.

15 For El Elyon, whose name is Holy says:
    I dwell in heaven with the contrite and humble of spirit to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of those who are contrite.

16 For the sake of your souls, for the healing of your spirits, the absence of the Divine in your lives need not last forever.

17 Through your greed and exploitation of the poor and week, you remove yourselves from the Divine Presence and attribute to Me your anger.

18 Suffering and penitence will lead to healing and comfort for those who see need and tend to it compassionately.

19 Peace, Peace to all who are far off and all who are near saith the creator of the fruit of the lips; and the people will be healed.

20 But those who forsake mercy, justice and humility are like the troubled sex; for it is likewise restless and casts up mire and dirt.

21 There is no peace, but definition from On High, where the wicked are concerned.

Isaiah LVIII

1 [G-d calls to Isaiah:]
    Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a shofar and declare unto My people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their wrong-doing.

2 Despite their wretched behavior they make a constant show of worship, but insincerely; as if they acted righteously, they demand justice; [they talk the talk but don t walk the walk] as they delight in their prayers, [expecting a gold medal because of a ten in technical merit despite a resounding zero for ethical intent].

3 [humanity cries out:]
    Wherefore have we fasted, and Thou seest not?
    Wherefore have we afflicted our souls, het our lot improves not?
    [G-d replies:]
    Behold, as you fast, you reduce it to a mere means of securing material gain.

4 Behold, your fast leads to strife and contention for you lack spiritual motive as you pray for that which is not due you; your fast at present doesn t help the ascent of your prayers to heaven, [doesn't raise Divine sparks nor draw down Holy creativity and love].

5 Is such as that the fast which serves the Divine Will?
    For one to afflict his or her soul with insincerity?
    To pray with a perfunctory, ceremonial formality?
    And to make a great show of contrition and remorse?
    You call that a fast and a day devoted to Holiness?

6 Isn't this the fast I've chosen?
    To loosen the fetters of wickedness, to undo the shackles of the yoke, and to let the opposed go free, and that you undo the bonds of slavery?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry, and that you welcome into your homes the poor and outcast? When you see the naked, that you offer them clothing, and that you don t hide yourself from your flesh and blood who are in need [ in the year 2000 c.e. I name the beggar, the shopping cart pusher, the prostitute, the mentally ill, the addict, the inmate on death row, the families of the 500,000 dead Iraqi children because of the U.N./U.S. sanctions, the newest weapon of mass destruction]? [I call on you all now, to think of someone you want absolutely nothing to do with .... Hold them in your heart .... Say a prayer of well-being for them.]

8 When you don t turn away,
    then _your_ light of joy will break forth like the morning,
    and _your_ healing will spring force speedily;
    and _your_ righteousness will go before you,
    the glory of G-d encouraging and protecting you.

9 Then should you call, and the Shechina will answer;
    should you cry, and HaShem will say, I am here;
    if you remove from your midst all the vestiges of bondage, the putting forth of the finger [shaking in accusation or scolding], and speaking wickedness.

10 And if you show compassion to the hungry, and feed the famished; the your light shall rise in darkness, and your gloom be as bright as mid-day.

11 And Holiness will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul during times of want, and invigorate the body; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

12 And all who join with you will revive the wasted places, and shall rebuild the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.

13 If you abstain from mundane occupations and keep the sabbath, from pursuing your business to make the day holy; and observe the sabbath in a spirit of joy and cheerfulness, honor it, putting aside the affairs of the rest of the week, nor pursuing your business, nor speaking idle words.

14 Then will you have delight with G-d, and you will have honor, power and influence, and I will feed you joyousness with the heritage of Jacob, Rachel and Leah; For the mouth of G-d has spoken it.

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