Reuben Ebrahimoff




The Haftorah for Parshat Tzav

Hashem (G-d) will Bring Punishment to the Wicked, even though they Brought Sacrifices to Him

The Haftorah is read from the book of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), 7:21-8:3, and 9:22-23

Jeremiah – The weeping prophet by: Rembrandt

The connection of the Haftorah to the Parsha: Parshat Tzav deals with laws pertaining to Korbanot, Animal Sacrifices. This Haftorah discusses the opposite. We hear how Hashem will not accept sacrifices in place of obeying His will.

The storyline of this week’s Haftorah: The Haftorah discusses how Hashem will not accept the sacrifices from the Jews who do not obey him. Hashem is also angered because Jeremiah had repeatedly warned the Jewish people to stop their collective self-deception, only to be ignored. The Jewish people were “manipulating” Hashem regarding the purpose of the sacrifices. Not only didn’t make Hashem happy to hear the crackling of the fat from the burning animals, Hashem resented their insincerity.

To add to that many Jews were involved in idol worship. Tophet, meaning “place of fire” was a site of worship for the Pagan god Molech. It was located in a valley on the southwest side of Jerusalem. It was also know as the Valley of Ben Hinnom. It was used as a garbage dump and therefore there was a continual fire burning there, which is how it became a euphemism for Hell. However it’s primitive root word “Toph” meant “playing or beating a percussion instrument such as a tumbrel, tambourine, or drum”. Scholars believe that it was possible that the percussion instruments were used to drown out the sounds of the infants as they were burned alive.

Molech had the head of a bull with two horns and the body of a man. The idol’s stomach was hollow and was the furnace for the fire used during the sacrifice. When hot enough, the infant was a placed into the arms of the idol. It is not known when the Israelites started sacrificing their children; however, Hashem clearly prohibits such forms of worship and indicated that sacrificing innocent children was murder (“blood on their hands”).  The punishment for idol worshipers is also discussed, as well as what a Jews goal in life should be.

The Haftorah begins with the Prophet Yirmiyahu. He “encourages” the Jews to increase their sacrifices, saying “Eat meat!”. This was meant to be ironic because he is accusing the people for their “outward” service to Hashem. The Jews are only preparing sacrifices so that they can eat the meat left over. Yirmiyahu then goes on to discuss how the original covenant with their fathers in Egypt involved only one sacrifice, the Pesach offering. There wasn’t any other discussion about other sacrifices, just that one. There was just the command to walk in the way of God. The bitterness continues as Yirmiyahu realizes that his words aren’t being listened to, even though the messages are being given in the name of God. He goes on to warn the Jewish people to go into mourning because of the sins committed in God’s own House, the Holy Temple. The Jews had built shrines to idols. Yirmiyahu says that the valley that they were doing their idol worshipping, the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, will now be known as the Valley of Slaughter.  It is named so not only because it will be used for burial purposes, but also because the bodies of the deceased were left unburied and become food for the wild birds and beasts.  Finally, Yirmiyahu tells the people that the former joy and song of the cities of Judah and Chutzos, the markets of Jerusalem, will come to an end.

Yirmiyahu describes the bones of the dead spread out before the pagan gods they had worshiped. It will be the bones of the kings, officers, priests, and neviim, and even the ordinary inhabitants of Jerusalem. Their bones will be taken out of their graves, none of them being spared. They won’t be reburied and their bones will suffer that indignity.

The Haftorah never ends on a sad note; it always has a happy ending with a glimmer of hope for the Jews.  The Haftorah concludes with two verses conveying a happier message from God. “Let no man glory in his own achievements or in his own riches, but let him rejoice in his earnest devotion to me. For I the Lord act with Chesed, kindness, Mishpat, judgment, and Tzedakah, charity, in the world; for in these I delight, declares the Lord.”

Belonging to Ahikam the son of Shaphan 2 Kings 22:12 - Jeremiah’s Scribe
See his thumbprints?

Yirmiyahu’s Biography:

  • The meaning of his name is “Hashem will elevate”.
  • Was born to his father Chilkiya, also a prophet, in 460 B.C.E., about 2400 years ago on Tishah Be’av in Anatot, 2 miles north of Jerusalem, in the land of Binyamin.
  • He was born circumcised, a sign of a spiritually elevated person.
  • 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.
  • His prophecies took place before, during, and after the destruction of the Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple). Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon destroyed the Temple.
  • He remained in Jerusalem after its destruction with Gedalyah ben Achikam, the man whom the fast of Gedalyah is named after.
  • Shafan was his scribe. Shafan brought the scroll he found in the Bait Hamikdash to Jeremiah, which was originally written by Moses. It was open to the verse "Hashem will bring you and your elected King to a nation unknown to your fathers." That scared people into changing their ways.
  • He fled to Egypt, Alexandria where it is believed that he died.
  • Wrote 3 Books: His own, Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah); Eicha (Lamentations), read on Tishah Be’Av; and Melachim (The Book of Kings). The time span of the book Jeremiah was 66 years.

Famous Phrases: Jeremiah 24:7, “V’natati lahem lev lada’at oti”  “And I will instill in them a heart that will seek to acknowledge me”.

Haftorahman’s lesson of the week: The holy books teach us that the ancient idols of wood and stone have transformed into modern times into the worship of money.  When is money a form of idol worship? When we forget that money comes from God, and consider money as a power in its own right.  To what extent do you believe in God, and to what extend do you put your faith in the “The Almighty Dollar”?

TimelineThis story took place about 2400 years ago.


Timeline by: Ephraim Waxman Dor L’Dor Feldheim Publishing



A map to show people how to get to “Gay Hinnom” or The Valley of Hinnom.

Written by: Reuben Gavriel Ben Nissim Ebrahimoff 5766-2006