Yom Kippur Haftarah: Isaiah 57:14-58:14

Fasting alone is not enough.

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The haftarah is a prophetic reading that follows the reading of the Torah.  Usually, the haftarah highlights a theme present in the Torah reading for the day. It is interesting that the ancient rabbis chose this particular section of the book of Isaiah for Yom Kippur morning.  On the most important fast day of the Jewish year, the haftarah carries the message the God does not desire fasting.  Isaiah’s lesson is that fasting alone is not enough, unless there is a moral and ethical foundation to the ritual behavior. For Jews who use the Reform machzor, the haftarah reading begins with Isaiah, chapter 58.

This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.

57:14.           [The Lord] says:

               Build up, build up a highway!

               Clear a road!

                     Remove all obstacles

                     From the road of My people!

57:15.           For thus said He who high aloft

                     Forever dwells, whose name is holy:

                     I dwell on high, in holiness;

                     Yet with the contrite and the lowly in spirit-

                     Reviving the spirits of the lowly,

                     Reviving the hearts of the contrite.

57:16.           For I will not always contend,

                     I will not be angry forever:

                     Nay, I who make spirits flag,"

                     Also create the breath of life.

57:17.           For their sinful greed I was angry;

                     I struck them and turned away in My wrath.

                     Though stubborn, they follow the way of their hearts,

57:18.           I note how they fare and will heal them:

                     I will guide them and mete out solace to them,

                     And to the mourners among them

57:19.                                                   heartening, comforting words:

                     It shall be well,

                     Well with the far and the near

                                                                   -said the LORD-

                     And I will heal them.

57:20.           But the wicked are like the troubled sea

               Which cannot rest,

                     Whose waters toss up mire and mud.

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