Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Ashkenazim)
As He did for Judah in the south, God sent prophets to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They identified the failings of its leadership and people, chastised them, recounted visions of destruction, and voiced powerful hope for the future. Amos, an early contemporary of Isaiah, was such a prophet, under the rule of the wicked Jeroboam II. At the peak of Israel’s expansion, wealth, power, and ease, he lambasted its corruption, its treatment of society’s weakest, its hypocritical Divine service, and more; as a result, destruction was imminent. Among the most rhetorically powerful prophets, Amos's words, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream” (5:24), still shake societies thousands of years later.
The Haftarah is the end of Amos’s eponymous book. He declares that the Northern Kingdom’s relationship with God, as reflected in the Exodus (as well as the Parashah, Lev. 20:26), will not prevent Him from punishing it for its sins, as He has relationships with, and punished and redeemed, other nations, too. After the forthcoming destruction, God will reward the righteous. Together with Judah under a Davidic king, they will rebuild a new kingdom of those who follow God and will, in turn, be richly rewarded forever.
Verses 7: Israel’s relationship with God is not unique, nor is His redemption of them during the Exodus.
“Are you not like the Ethiopians unto Me, O children of Israel?” declares the Lord. “Have I not brought Israel up from the land of Egypt- [But also] the Philistines from Caphtor, and [the nation of] Aram from Kir?”
הֲל֣וֹא כִבְנֵי֩ כֻשִׁיִּ֨ים אַתֶּ֥ם לִ֛י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל נְאֻם־ה' הֲל֣וֹא אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל הֶעֱלֵ֙יתִי֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וּפְלִשְׁתִּיִּ֥ים מִכַּפְתּ֖וֹר וַאֲרָ֥ם מִקִּֽיר׃
Verses 8-10: God will punish the Northern kingdom’s corrupt government and exile its people- especially those who think that His relationship with Israel prevents Him from doing so.
“Behold, the Lord God’s eyes are upon the sinful [Northern] kingdom. I [God] will destroy it from the face of the earth- except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the Lord.
הִנֵּ֞ה עֵינֵ֣י ׀ אֲדֹנָ֣י ה' בַּמַּמְלָכָה֙ הַֽחַטָּאָ֔ה וְהִשְׁמַדְתִּ֣י אֹתָ֔הּ מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י הָאֲדָמָ֑ה אֶ֗פֶס כִּ֠י לֹ֣א הַשְׁמֵ֥יד אַשְׁמִ֛יד אֶת־בֵּ֥ית יַעֲקֹ֖ב נְאֻם־ה'׃
Verses 11-12: Later, God will reconstitute a unified government under Davidic rule.
On that day, I [God] will raise up David’s fallen tabernacle, repair its breaches, raise up its ruins, and build it as in ancient days.
בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא אָקִ֛ים אֶת־סֻכַּ֥ת דָּוִ֖יד הַנֹּפֶ֑לֶת וְגָדַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־פִּרְצֵיהֶ֗ן וַהֲרִֽסֹתָיו֙ אָקִ֔ים וּבְנִיתִ֖יהָ כִּימֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם׃
Verses 13-15: God will return His people to their land which they will rebuild, blessed with bountiful produce and security, for eternity.
I [God] will bring back the captivity of My people, Israel. They shall build wasted cities and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
וְשַׁבְתִּי֮ אֶת־שְׁב֣וּת עַמִּ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וּבָנ֞וּ עָרִ֤ים נְשַׁמּוֹת֙ וְיָשָׁ֔בוּ וְנָטְע֣וּ כְרָמִ֔ים וְשָׁת֖וּ אֶת־יֵינָ֑ם וְעָשׂ֣וּ גַנּ֔וֹת וְאָכְל֖וּ אֶת־פְּרִיהֶֽם׃
Verse 11 (above) is the basis of the special addition to Birkat Hamazon for the holiday of Sukkot.
Grace After Meals
May the Merciful One raise up David’s fallen tabernacle.
הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סוכת דוד הנופלת
Verse 14 (above) promises a return of the Ten Tribes of Israel which has not yet occured; Biblical promises of redemption are sometimes partial or delayed. This point caps the reasoning of the Mishnah permitting certain converts to marry native-born Jews despite Biblical verses suggesting otherwise.
Mishnah Yadayim 4:4
On that day Judah, an Ammonite convert, came and stood before them in the house of study. He said to them: “May I enter [by marriage] into the assembly [i.e., the Jewish people]?”
Rabban Gamaliel said to him, “You are forbidden.” Rabbi Joshua replied, “You are permitted.”
R. Gamaliel replied [to R. Joshua], “Scripture (Deut. 23:4) states, ‘An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord even to the tenth generation.’"
R. Joshua replied [to R. Gamaliel], “Are the Ammonites and Moabites in their own territory? Sennacherib, king of Assyria, arose already and mingled all the nations, as Scripture (Isa. 10:1) states, ‘I have removed the borders of peoples, plundered their treasures, and, as a mighty one, humbled [their] inhabitants.’"
R. Gamaliel replied, “Scripture (Jer. 49:6) states, ‘Afterward, I will bring back the captivity of the children of Ammon,’ and they have already returned.”
R. Joshua replied, “Scripture (Amos 9:14) states, ‘I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel and Judah ’ yet they [Israel] have not yet returned.”
They permitted [the Ammonite convert] to enter the assembly.
בּוֹ בַיּוֹם בָּא יְהוּדָה, גֵּר עַמּוֹנִי, וְעָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶן בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ. אָמַר לָהֶם, מָה אֲנִי לָבֹא בַקָּהָל.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, אָסוּר אָתָּה. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, מֻתָּר אָתָּה.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (דברים כג), לֹא יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי בִּקְהַל ה' גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי וְגוֹ'.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, וְכִי עַמּוֹנִים וּמוֹאָבִים בִּמְקוֹמָן הֵן. כְּבָר עָלָה סַנְחֵרִיב מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וּבִלְבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאֻמּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה י), וְאָסִיר גְּבוּלֹת עַמִּים וַעֲתוּדוֹתֵיהֶם שׁוֹשֵׂתִי וְאוֹרִיד כַּאבִּיר יוֹשְׁבִים.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (ירמיה מט), וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן אָשִׁיב אֶת שְׁבוּת בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן, וּכְבָר חָזְרוּ.
אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (עמוס ט), וְשַׁבְתִּי אֶת שְׁבוּת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל וִיהוּדָה, וַעֲדַיִן לֹא שָׁבוּ.
הִתִּירוּהוּ לָבֹא בַקָּהָל:
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