The Haftara for the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, Yishayahu 1:1-27, the third of the Haftarot of affliction, puts us in the somber mood of Tisha B’Av. In fact some of the words of the Haftara sound like they are right out of Eicha (Lamentations) which is read on Tisha B’Av .
Yishayahu 1:21-23 states: “Eicha hayta l’zonah”, “How she (Jerusalem) became a harlot! – faithful city that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water. Your princes are rebellious and associates of thieves; every one loves bribes and follows after illegal rewards; for the orphan they do not do justice, the cause of the widow does not reach them.”
Unfortunately these sentences sound a lot like what one will find if they pick up a Hebrew newspaper in Israel today. Politicians who were caught conducting themselves in an illegal manner, accepting bribes, looking out only for themselves and not caring about the poor.
How can these problems be corrected?
At the end of the Haftara, in 1:26-27 God promises: “Veashiva Shoftayich Kivarishona, Veyoatzayich Kivatchila”, “I will return your judges as in earliest times and your counselors as at first, after that you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City. Zion will be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness.”
We recite almost the exact same quote in the Shmoneh Esrei three times a day, “HaShiva Shofteinu Kivarishona, Viyoatzeinu Kivatchila”, “Restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first.”
We need to pray for better leaders to guide us. Of course there are many upstanding Knesset members and former Knesset members but we need more of them in order to turn Jerusalem back into the City of Righteousness.
According to Daat Mikra, “Zion will be redeemed with justice and her returnees with righteousness” refers to the fact that those who left the Land of Israel when it was desolate will return knowing that now it will be run with righteousness.
We have seen this in our time with olim returning to Israel and trying to make a difference in the Knesset. Some of these politicians bring with them values and a drive to make Israel a better and just place.
Instead of sitting and complaining about Israel, those who are interested in politics can get involved and make changes from the inside.
Those who do not live in Israel can take this opportunity as I did twelve years ago to make aliya, return home to Israel and together we can work on making our country a better place to live.