Reuben Ebrahimoff




The Haftorah for Parshat Shemot for Sephardim

The Sephardim read the Haftorah from the book of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) 1:1-2:3

The Weeping Prophet Jeremiah by: Rembrandt

The connection of the Haftorah to the Parsha: Sephardim: In the Parsha of Shemot, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) is appointed a prophet and leader. This Haftorah was chosen because similarly to Moshe, Yirmiyahu is called upon by Hashem to relay his messages to the Jews. They both modestly rejected Hashem’s request. They both claimed that they didn’t posses the power of speech needed to convince the nation of Israel to change their ways. They both prophesied for 40 years.

The storyline of this week’s Haftorah: Sephardim: The Haftorah starts off with Yirmiyahu being destined to prophesy. Hashem reassures Yirmiyahu that regardless of his feelings of unworthiness, Hashem chose him and would always be there for him. Yirmiyahu then has two prophecies: The first prophecy is a vision of an almond tree sprouting its first branch. In the springtime, it is the almond tree that sprouts the earliest and the quickest. It takes exactly 21 days for the almond tree to sprout. This prophecy was a warning to the Israelites that the “sprouting” or destruction of Jerusalem will be quick, soon and brief. As a matter of fact, it took exactly 21 days from the day that Nebuchadnezzar broke through the walls of Jerusalem on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz (the 17th of the month of Tammuz) until the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, until Tish’a B’Av (the 9th of the month of Av). The second vision is of a boiling pot with its opening to the north. The “boiling pot” symbolizes the nation of Babylon, which was situated to the north and is spilling over onto the Jews in the land of Israel. Yirmiyahu warns Israel to change their evil ways or be exiled. Hashem gives encouragement to Yirmiyahu to deliver Hashem’s message without fear of Bnei Yisroel, the nation of Israel. The Haftorah concludes with the reassuring words that the nation and the land of Israel are dear to Hashem and anyone who attacks Israel, will eventually be beset by evil, measure for measure.

Yirmiyahu’s Biography:

  • The definition of his name is “Hashem will elevate”.
  • Born circumcised, to Chilkiya, also a prophet, in 640 B.C.E. about 2650 years ago, on Tisha B’Av in Anatot, 2 miles north of Jerusalem, in the land of Binyamin.
  • Was a Kohen and a descendant of Rachav, the Yericho (Jericho) innkeeper that Yehoshua saved.
  • Spoke at childhood, cursing the day he was born. Began prophesying at age 18, continuing for 40 years.
  • Lived in Jerusalem. He never married, and had no children.
  • Was the head of the Mishmeret Hakohanim (The Guard by the Priests doing work in the Holy Temple). They were the custodians of the Ark of the Lord.
  • Known as the Weeping Prophet, for he endured the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Symbolically, he wore a wooden yolk around his neck.
  • Wrote 3 Books: His own, Yirmiyahu; Eicha (Lamentations), read on Tisha B’Av; and Melachim (The Book of Kings).

Famous phrases from the Book of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah): Yirmiyahu 33:10-11, “Od yeshamah, b’arai yehudah, u’vechusot, u’vechusot Yerushalaim. Kol sasson ve’kol simcha, kol chatan ve’kol kalah.” “There again will be heard, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride” (We sing this in celebration at weddings and happy times.

Cameo of Nebuchadnezzar in the Florence Museum

Haftorahman’s lesson of the week: We should all be reminded by the prophets how to “Deliver the message, without fear of the response”. Or “Speak truth to power”. Take things HEAD-ON, and deal with them.

The Ishtar Gate - King Nebuchadnezzar’s Palace

Timeline: The Sephardim’s Haftorah takes place 2650 years ago. The prophet Isaiah lived approximately 2700 years ago just before the destruction of the 1st temple.


Map: The Haftorah takes place in Jerusalem

Written by: Reuben Gavriel Ben Nissim Ebrahimoff 5773-2013