The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.
This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.
Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.
This year has already seen a number of unique circumstances in the calendar. Yet another consequence of this rare configuration is the fact that the 5th of Iyar, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, lands on Shabbos. Of course, the actual commemoration is moved (as it is most years) to avoid chilul Shabbos. It seems the most glaring lesson to be gleaned actually comes from the haftarah – certainly one of the more captivating stories we read.
The story of the haftarah has its own interesting backstory, some of which is covered in the haftarah of Tazria which is very seldomly read (approximately 16% of years, credit: Shaarei Zemanim.) There is an important preamble which is only read in the Yeminite tradition. The prophet Elisha declares in the midst of a terrible famine and a siege from the nation of Aram that tomorrow there will be such bounty that the price of wheat and barley would drop to unbelievably low rates. So unbelievable, in fact, that one of the king's aides declares it impossible, at which point Elisha informs him that it will happen but he will not get to enjoy it.
The rest of us then pick up the story with the 4 metzoraim (traditionally assumed to be Geichazi and his sons) who have been left outside the city as per the rules stated in the parsha. In an act of desperation, facing what they believed to be a die-or-die situation, they dangerously entered the camp of Aram, only to find that it had been completely abandoned due to some miraculous delusions of an impending attack. The entire camp was there for the taking, including more than enough produce to alleviate the famine in the city. The skeptical aide was appointed to guard the gates where he was trampled to death, thereby fulfilling Elisha's prophecy.
With imminent death by hunger along with the sword of Aram at their throat, one is inclined to be somewhat sympathetic to the skepticism of the king's aide. But there is still no excuse to doubt the word of HaShem. One can only imagine a navi walking into Auschwitz on January 26, 1945 and proclaiming that not only will you be liberated tomorrow by none other than the Soviet Red Army but in just a matter of years, the nations of the world will decide to grant the Jews an autonomous homeland in Israel. Who would have had the strength to believe it? But so it happened, further evidence of what we proclaim every year at the seder – vehaKadosh Baruch Hu matzilaynu miyadam.
The haftarah ends in a rather puzzling manner. The introductory story which us non-Yemenites had skipped is repeated nearly word-for-word as we are told of the demise of the king's aide. Why is this necessary? What is the purpose of the last three pesukim? Perhaps, the lesson is that when the going is good, even after a great salvation, it is all too easy to forget our previous circumstances and how far we've come. As I have noted previously, the maror at the seder is meant to remind us of the bitterness of the subjugation in Mitzrayim. But it is clear (Shemos 12:8) that even the korban Pesach eaten on their way out of Mitzrayim was eaten with maror! Remembering our previous dire circumstances and how distant salvation seemed helps us continue to appreciate the deliverance that ensued.