This week's haftarah portion, a selection from the prophets, is from Jeremiah. Often described as the "Weeping Prophet," Jeremiah lived in Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE.
He preached through the reign of five kings, and he is said to have authored the books of Kings and Lamentations, in addition to his own book or prophecies.
He is often compared to Moses, and his son Ezekiel followed in the family business: scolding the Jewish people. From his name we get the English word jeremiad, "a cautionary or angry harangue."
AJ Heschel saw Jeremiah as a middle-man of sorts, writing,
"Standing before the people he pleaded for God;
Standing before God he pleaded for his people."
In this week's verses, there is rebuke and warning, and great disappointment on the part of God.
וָאָבִ֤יא אֶתְכֶם֙ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַכַּרְמֶ֔ל לֶאֱכֹ֥ל פִּרְיָ֖הּ וְטוּבָ֑הּ וַתָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ וַתְּטַמְּא֣וּ אֶת־אַרְצִ֔י וְנַחֲלָתִ֥י שַׂמְתֶּ֖ם לְתוֹעֵבָֽה׃
I brought you to this country of farm land
To enjoy its fruit and its bounty;
But you came and defiled My land,
You made My possession abhorrent.
I imagine Jeremiah standing in the paring lot
of a mall in El Paso, surveying a
country of farm land defiled.
Jeremiah counts the victims
blood in the aisles of a WalMart
news helicopters covering the
"To enjoy its fruit and its bounty,"
he quotes himself.
Is this how they farm the land?
If this is what they are reaping,
What kind of seeds did they sow?
Climbing vines of supremacy
Deeply rooted suspicion
And the land is defiled
before its creator.
Standing before the people
Standing before God