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Shabbat Parashat Vaeira 5781

Parashat Hashavua: Overlapping Prophecies of Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu

Harav Yosef Carmel

This week’s haftara begins (the first pasuk we will cite precedes the haftara) with Yechezkel’s description of the future liberation. “There will no longer be a silon mam’ir for Bnei Yisrael and a painful thorn, and they will know that I am Hashem… when I gather the House of Israel from the nations of their dispersions. I will be sanctified before the nations, and they will live in their Land which I gave to my servant Yaakov. They will live there in security and build houses and plant vineyards, and live in security, as I will bring miraculous blows against all who are shatim to them” (Yechezkel 28:24-26).

At the same time that Yechezkel was serving as prophet in Bavel, Yirmiyahu was serving in Jerusalem. This gives us the opportunity to view the period from two different vantage points. Generally, we should point out that there are significant differences between the two prophets:

1. Yirmiyahu does not consider Yehoyakim to be king from the time he was exiled to Bavel, where he was imprisoned. Therefore, the dating of his uncle Tzidkiyahu as king begins from that point. In contrast, Yechezkel counts the kingship of Yehoyachin even when he was in a Babylonian jail.

2. Yirmiyahu viewed the post-Exodus generation as a “generation of knowledge,” whose relationship with Hashem was a symbol of a positive one.  In contrast, Yechezkel is harshly critical of them.

In regard to the prophecy we began with, the two see things similarly, as Yirmiyahu uses similar imagery of planting vineyards and living in security (Yirmiyahu 31:4, 32:37). Yechezkel also uses very strong and rare language to get his idea across. According to Targum Yonatan, the word silon means a corrupt king and Rashi explains that mam’ir means a painful affliction (as is used in regard to tzara’at (see Vayikra 13:51). Targum Yonatan explains shatim as marauders who plunder, and Rashi explains that it means those who degrade their victims. To summarize the approaches of both, in the future, Bnei Yisrael will escape exceptional oppression and will be fortunate to live in security in their Land

In our days, we can understand the prophecy more broadly. The nation will return to the Land and will be accepted by the Land with great love, for example by the returnees planting very successful vineyards. While our nation had been degraded, and our property was desired by our oppressors, we will succeed in building a highly technologically developed economy. We indeed have witnessed our populace becoming among the most affluent in the world. While some 75 years ago, we were viewed as thorns in the eyes of the nations and like lepers, we have now been able to turn things around. We stand out among our neighbors as a uniquely talented nation, and those who still try to oppress us have themselves experienced great destruction. The interest of so many nations to get to see and take part in our success is part of the prophecy of Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu. May we succeed in being a light unto the nations.


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