Sharona Margolin Halickman

Renewing our vows with God

The Shabbat between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat of Return, due to the fact that the Haftatah from Hoshea 14:2-10 begins with the words “Shuva Yisrael”, “Return, Israel to your God.”

Hoshea declares that although B’nai Yisrael sinned, they can still repent and God is always ready to forgive them. The theme that runs through is that God is like a loving husband who wants to renew his wedding vows with his estranged wife, the Jewish people.

Much of the imagery in the Haftara reminds us of Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs, the love story that symbolizes the love between God and the Jewish people.

In Hoshea 14:6 we read: “I (God) shall be like the dew (tal) to Israel, it will blossom like the rose and strike its roots like the forest of Lebanon.”

God will be a blessing for Israel, the way that the dew brings a blessing for all. God’s revelation of the Shechina, Divine Presence, is also compared to dew in Dvarim 32:2: “May my teaching drop like the rain, may my utterance flow like the dew; like storm winds upon vegetation and like raindrops upon blades of grass.”

Hoshea 14:8 states: “Tranquil will be those who sit in the shade, they will refresh themselves like grain and blossom like the grapevine, their reputation will be like the wine of Lebanon.”

The blessings of the dew, grain and wine are also mentioned in Yitzchak’s blessing to Yaakov (Breisheet 27:28): “May God give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine.”

The themes of dew, grain and wine are included as well in Moshe’s blessing to Israel (Dvarim 33:28):  “Israel shall dwell secure, solitary, in the likeness of Yaakov, in a land of grain and wine; even his heavens shall drip with dew.”

In Israel, between Pesach and Shmini Atzeret, we add the words “Morid Hatal”, “He causes the dew to fall” to the Shmoneh Esrei. In the winter, the words “Viten tal umatar livracha”, “Grant dew and rain as a blessing” are said. In this way, we are constantly reminded that we rely on God to ensure that the plants grow on a daily basis, even when it is not the rainy season.

A significant amount of produce and a large variety of wines can be found in Israel today. As these blessings are fulfilled, let us hope and pray that this symbolizes the Jewish people’s reunification with God and that God will continue to shower His blessings upon us and may we dwell securely in our land.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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