President’s Message – March 2012, Adar-Nissan 5772 –
Spring is Coming and Minor Prophets
With every day now, spring comes closer. Early in the month, we will celebrate Purim, a festive, frolic of a holiday, when we are supposed to become so jolly that we forget the differences between good Mordechai and evil Haman. We rejoice in the heroism of Esther, an assimilated wife of an emperor, who empowered the Jewish people in Persia to defend themselves after obtaining royal support. After this holiday, we continue our preparation for Pesah with special Shabbat readings and lots of cleaning. Community members are planning an outreach event on Thursday, March 23, 5 – 7 pm at the Elm Package Store – Passover wine tasting – and at the Willi Co-op – haroset-making and other holiday recipes, to help prepare others for the holidays.
In my self-declared tradition of reading a book from the Bible beyond the Torah each month, this month I am looking into the books of the so-called 12 minor prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadia, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These books are not minor in meaning, but in length. They are much shorter than the other books of the prophets, were probably written between the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel and the restoration of the second Temple in Jerusalem, in the 8th – 4th centuries before the common era, and were closer to the poetry of the people than the major prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, who were connected to the ruling classes and the priests.
On the first Shabbat of the year, Shabbat Shuvah, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we read from Hosea (XIV: 2) – Return, O Israel, unto the Lord, your God; For you have stumbled in your iniquity; Micah (VII: 20) – You will show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, As You have sworn our ancestors from the days of old; and Joel (II: 21) – Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things. On Yom Kippur afternoon, we read the book of Jonah and from Micah (VII: 19) – God will again have compassion upon us, God will subdue our inquities, and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. On Sukkot, we read from Zechariah (XIV: 9) – And the Lord shall be King over all of the earth, In that day shall the Lord be One, and God’s name one. Following the Torah readings about Jacob in the fall season, we may read sections from Malachi, Hosea, and Obadiah. Throughout the year, there are some other readings from Hosea, Zechariah, Amos, and Micah, including from Micah (VI: 8) – God has told you, O man, what is good, and what God requires of you: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God – which is in our synagogue’s mission statement.
My best wishes to you and yours for a joyful Purim and easy preparations for the spring and Pesah. – David Stoloff, 2011-2012 President, Temple Bnai Israel, Willimantic, CT