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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Kdoshim

Parashat Kedoshim

Galut is Punishment

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To some, the choice of "Halo khivnei khushiim" - "To Me, O people of Israel, you are just like Ethiopians - declares Hashem" (Amos 9:7) as haftarah for this week's parasha reflects Chazal's desire to frame a stark contrast to the parasha's striking call to each and every Jew: "Be holy!" (Rav Yaakovson in Chazon Hamikra).

To Rav Yoseph Dov Soloveitchik zt"l however, the choice of this week's haftarah reflects quite the opposite - a much-needed message of hope and promise to the people of Israel. No matter how bitter and dark the days of Galut may be, Galut is only temporary.

The idea of Galut as punishment - the Land of Israel 'spewing out' those who pollute it - appears first in this week's portion. That Eretz Israel by its very nature will not tolerate certain types of sin is explained by Rashi (Vayikra 18:28): "This may be compared to the case of a prince (i.e. a person of a sensitive physical nature) to whom one gives something disgusting to eat which he cannot retain in his stomach but vomits it out. Thus too, Eretz Israel is unable to retain sinners on its soil." Thus, over and above punishment - Galut is actually the natural consequence of sin in Eretz Israel.

That is why, explains the Rav, "Halo khivnei khushiim", with its message of hope and promise that Galut is only temporary, was chosen as the haftarah. It reminds us that the Land of Israel itself will be faithful to all Jews who struggle through the lengthy night of Galut to retain their identity as Jews and their loyalty to Eretz Israel. Thus the haftarah concludes: "In that day I will set up again the fallen sukka of David . . .I will restore My people Israel... And I will plant them upon their soil, nevermore to be uprooted from the soil I have given them - says the Lord your God."

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