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Each week we feature a different Florida Rabbi.


Rabbi Donald Bixon
Young Israel of Miami Beach
Miami Beach

In addition to each weekly Torah portion, our Rabbis instituted the public reading of a portion from the book of Prophets (sefer Nevi'im) known as the Haftorah. The method in which the Haftorah is chosen is by finding a common topic from the weekly parsha and sefer Nevi'im.

At first glance, it is difficult for us to find the connection between the weekly portion of Acharei Mos and its Haftorah that chazal (the sages) selected from the book of Amos. A primary theme that is described in the portion is the prohibition against immorality, abominations and illicit relations. Therefore the appropriate section of Nevi'im for our Rabbis to have chosen from as a Haftorah would have been chapter 20 or 22 from the book of Yechezkal, which also deals with these points. This choice would have a much clearer connection to Acharei Mos then the prevailing choice of sefer Amos.

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, felt the decision not to use these sections from sefer Yechezkal was done so out of consideration of the opinion of R' Eliezer. R' Eliezer states (Megillah 25a, Sofrim 9:12) that when choosing a Haftorah one should not choose one that depicts the abominations of Jerusalem. Although chapter 20 and 22 of Yechezkal would have matched the motif of Acharei Mos using one of them would violate this dictum of R' Eliezer, not to publicly mention the social depravity that may have existed in Jerusalem.

Why then was the Haftorah selected from Amos? Rav Soloveitchik suggested that this selection was made based on the last verses of our parsha:

"Do not become contaminated through any of these; for through all of these the nations that I expel before you became contaminated. The Land became contaminated and I recalled its iniquity upon it; and the Land disgorged its inhabitants. But you shall safeguard My decrees and My judgments, and not commit any of these abominations - the native or the proselyte who lives among you. For the inhabitants of the Land who are before you committed all these abominations, and the Land became contaminated. Let not the Land disgorge you for having contaminated it, as it disgorged the nation that was before you. For if anyone commits any of these abominations, the people doing so will be cut off from among their people." (Vayikra 18:24-29)

For the first time since the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people are warned that they may lose the ability to live in the land of Israel (which ultimately does happen) based on their behavior while in the land. Yet the Haftorah tells us: "On that day I will erect David's fallen booth (referring to the Temple); I will repair their breaches and erect his ruins, and I will rebuild it as in days of old, so that they will conquer the remnant of Edom and all the nations, for My Name is upon them the words of Hashem who brings this about." What is the connection between the portion and the Haftorah?

Rav Soloveitchik explained that this is why the section from the book of Amos was used for the Haftorah. Before G-d punishes with exile He is already telling us how we will return. G-d does wants us to know despite our iniquities we will always be in his favor. In fact, normally when two parshiot are read together (as parshas Acharei Mos and Kedoshim usually are), we read the Haftorah that is connected to the second parsha. When Acharei Mos and Kedoshim coincide, they are the exception to this rule (Rema 428:8). We still read the Haftorah for Acharei Mos. Rav Soloveitchik insisted that the reason for this change is because of the very significant message that the Torah portion and its Haftorah relate. The Torah portion talks of our expulsion from the land of Israel and the Haftorah speaks of our redemption

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