The Weekly Haftorah
By: Reuben Ebrahimoff - The Haftorahman
Reproof to B’nai Yisrael and a Description of the Great Day of Judgment.
The Haftorah is read from the book of Malachi, 3:4-24
The connection of the Haftorah to Shabbat Hagadol: The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the Great Shabbat, because it was the Shabbat preceding the awesome Yetzi'at Mitzraim-Exodus from Egypt. Similarly, Malachi, the prophet from whose book the Haftorah is selected from, speaks of the arrival of the “Yom Hagadol”, The Great Day, upon the arrival of Mashiach.
Mural of the prophet Malachi from the ancient synagogue of Dura-Europos
The storyline of this week’s Haftorah: The Prophet Malachi predicts that Hashem will be pleased by B’nai Yisrael’s future sacrifices, but for now (in Malachi’s day) Hashem finds fault with B’nai Yisrael’s wrongdoings and Hashem will deal firmly with them. The Prophet continues to say that Hashem disapproves of the Jews withholding the Terumah or priestly dues. Jewish people can keep up to 90% of their earnings and as an acknowledgement of Hashem being the source of the blessing. We are commanded to give to give at least 10% of our profits to charity. Hashem dares the Jewish people to “take him on” with this commandment. Hashem says that if you keep the laws of ma’aser (giving one tenth of your profits to charity) you will be rewarded so much, that your lips will become raw from saying… “Baruch Hashem “, “Thank You Hashem, I have a lot to be grateful for”. The Israelites are then scolded for denying Hashem’s guardianship. In the future, Hashem will give great rewards to the people who have been loyal. The great Day of Judgment is coming; the people who went away from Hashem will be punished and the people who moved closer to Hashem will be rewarded. Hashem then firmly suggests keeping the Torah. The Haftorah concludes with a promise that one day in the future, the prophet Eliyahu will reappear. Eliyahu will be the predecessor to the Mashiach.
Consider the spiritual conditions in Jerusalem at the time of this Haftorah: The Temple service was not observed. The Kohanim, Priests, were remiss in their duties, offering animals that were blemished, lame and sick. People were indifferent or skeptical of religion. Men divorced their wives and intermarried. Morals were lax.
· The meaning of his name is “My messenger” or “My Servant”, which describes the prophet’s mission.
· Some commentaries think that he was actually Ezra, or Daniel.
· The Book of Malachi was written after The Book of Esther.
· Malachi’s prophecies took place somewhere in between 3410 to 3450 years from creation. In the time just before the rebuilding of the 2nd Bait Hamikdash – Second Temple Period.
· He was born and prophesied in Jerusalem.
· He was the last prophet to appear in the book of Trai Assar, The Twelve Prophets.
· Lived in the time of the Persian Empire. Darius, the son of Achashverosh & Esther, was king of Persia.
· There were no longer Kings of Israel or Judah. Israel was a little corner of the Persian Empire.
· He administered in Jerusalem during the Persian period after the Temple had been rebuilt. (The Jews were permitted to rebuild the Second Temple providing that they put on the floor of the entranceway a mosaic tile that stated, “The Temple was permitted to be rebuilt by the King Darius of Persia.”)
· He was one of eight postexilic prophets.
· Belonged to the Anshay Knesset Hagdolah, The Men of the Great Assembly, numbering 120, among them Mordechai Hatzadik Azariah, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Zerubbavel. They authored almost every blessing we make including the Amidah, Shemona Esray.
· 39th and final book chronologically in the Tanach – afterwards prophecy and avodah zarah (idol worshipping) left B’nai Yisrael.
Famous phrases: Malachi: 3:4: “V’arvah la'Hashem minchat yehuda v’yerushalaim keyemai olam ucheshanim kadmaniyot”. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Hashem as in the days of old and in previous years.” This is the final sentence of the Amidah prayers that is said after we request of Hashem to rebuild the Third Bait Hamikdash, Holy Temple.
Haftorahman’s Lesson of the week: Hashem says in the Haftorah:”Return to me and I will return to you”. Hashem has actually never removed himself from us; we have removed ourselves from him! In the week just before Pesach, we should utilize the opportunity to reconnect ourselves to Hashem, The source of all freedom in life.
Timeline: Malachi lived in the Jewish year of 3438 (From the time of creation) more than 2300 years ago. This Haftorah takes place in the time of the Second Temple.
Map: Malachi prophesied in the Holy city of Jerusalem.
Written by: Reuven Gavriel ben Nissim