Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why do we read the vision of the valley dry bones on the intermediary shabbos of Pesach?

My new theory, which is in fact a theory contained in an excellent book shared with me by nopeanutz, is that the choice of haftorah for the intermediary Shabbos of Pesach is in fact a response to the Christian claim of Jesus's resurrection. (When I get to a real computer, I will look up the name of the book and cite it. I think its author was Yubal?)

The haftorah, as all of you should know, retells Ezekial's invigorating promise that fortune will once again smile on the whole house of Israel, and that God will "open your graves... And put my spirit back inside you, and you will come back to life, and I will put you back in your own land." Like the dried out old bones, Israel, at this moment seemingly beyond all hope of resurrection, will one day be brought back to life.

Can it be a coincidence that this passage, and this message, were chosen for the intermediary Shabbos of Pesach, a Shabbos that almost always follows Good Friday, and precedes Easter, a Shabbos that is balanced, as it were, between the day of the Christian god's death and the day of his alleged revivification? It seems clear that someone thought it would be wise on this day to remind Jews that, like those bones, we are never without hope, never in need of any savior but God, and always on the brink of restoration and rejuvenation. The Christian may say that the Jews have been abandoned and that rescue and restoration are available through the resurrected Jesus. This haftorah gives a different point of view and uses the metaphor of quite a different resurrection to deliver what someone seems to have understood and seems to have wanted others to understand as a firm rebuttal of the Christian promise.

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