Vayeshev Drash

Brit Hadasha Drash  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Today’s Haftarah portion is special because it is Chanukah. Instead of the typical selection out of Amos we have Zechariah 2:14-4:7.
There is a lot of imagery in this selection that is thematically congruent to Chanukah. We can compare the declaration of Adonai that he will dwell among his people and gentiles will come and join themselves to him with the Light of the Chanukiah that draws people in and inspires hope. We can compare the cleansing of Yehoshua with the cleansing of the temple and the people after the Maccabean revolution. We can compare the sending of the servant branch with the shamash/servant candle of the Chanukiah. We even read a very popular verse and one of the main reasons this selection is marked for Chanukah in Zechariah 4:6 “Then he responded to me by saying, ‘This is the word of Adonai to Zerubbabel saying: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Ruach!” says Adonai-Tzva’ot.” Which reminds us it was not military might that won the victory in we celebrate at this time but HaShems divine will that secured victory.
The part that stood out to me most was chapter 3. Here we read about Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol clothed in filthy garments standing in Judgment, by the Angel of Adonai and the Accuser.
For a little background Yehoshua is the first Kohen Gadol after the Babylonian exile and Ezra discusses him in Ezra 10:18.
The SIN he was being judged for, was that not he but his sons had married gentile woman and they are Kohenim, this is a SIN. Why is he found innocent though? He told his sons to divorce their wives and send them and their children away.
How very strange and unsettling this is. It seems a man is judged not for what he did but what his sons did and the solution is the ending of marriages and the sending away of their family.
Needless to say there is nuances to this that would take longer than the 2 minutes I have left to explain, but suffice to say what I want to focus on; is sometimes correction of SIN feels terrible.
There are people that are important to me that openly live in SIN and I would love to do nothing more than to go run and wrap my arms around them and say “It will be OK we can get past this, let us just not bring this up anymore, let us just let it all go and forget about it, or for the sake of peace we will ignore it for now” or some other self deceiving platitude. Yet they are not following HaShem they live in SIN. For me to ignore it for the sake of peace or to not address it, is not all that different than Yehoshua not addressing the SIN of his sons. If Yehoshua’s son’s did not change at their father’s corrections what would happen to them? They too would have been sent away, back to Babylon.
What must it have felt like for Yehoshua’s sons to have to choose between serving HaShem and their own families their own flesh and blood? I can tell you it felt terrible. Like loosing your heart.
Giving HaShem all of me means all of me. Putting him first means putting him first. It does not stop at giving up things that are not of him it also means giving up people that are not following him. I cannot walk in 2 directions at once. I cannot walk toward HaShem and toward those that walk away from him.
What will happen to those that I love though? Well, if they love me they will come find me. Where will I be when they do? If I have been walking closer to HaShem they will find me close to HaShem and where will that put them, closer to HaShem.
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