Where Would You Like To Sit, Under My Vine Or My Fig Tree?

grapes and figs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eoskins/10046725054/

This Shabbat, we read from the prophet Zecharaiah, whose prophecy occurred during the time of King Darius of Persia. At this point in our history, some of the Jews who had been living in exile in Babylonia had returned to the land of Israel–rejoining the small remnant that had never left–and begun to rebuild the Beit haMikdash, the Holy Temple, in Jerusalem.

Chapter 4, verse 6 is a message to Zerubabbel, the leader of the newly returned community, given through the prophet’s vision: lo v’chayal v’lo v’koach, ki im b’ruchi ama Ado-nai Tzva’ot, “Not by might and not by power but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.”

Is this an admonition to Zerubabbel, that he shouldn’t get too full of himself in rebuilding the Temple, because it won’t be through his physical efforts? Or, does it refer to the King of Persia, upon whom the Divine Spirit will be placed, and he will not only command the building of the Temple but pay for it as well? Rashi, our great medieval commentator, sees both possibilities. Either way, it will be through Divine will and intervention as opposed to human effort.

Zechariah’s prophecies, like those of his contemporaries, speak of hope and restoration; a messianic time, bayom hahu–n’oom Ado-nai Tzva’ot–tikr’u ish l’ray-ayhu el tachat gefen v’el tachat t’aynah, “On that day (to come) says the Lord of Hosts, a person will invite their neighbor to the shade of vines and fig trees.” (Zech. 3:10) George Washington quoted this in his letter to the Jewish Community of Newport, RI.

Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory, wrote a song called “Not By Might” based on this prophecy; “Not by might and not by power but by spirit alone (ruach!) shall we all live in peace.” In my understanding, she’s incorporating the two verses I mentioned into a message for us today, and I mean today.

Recent events in Israel and a significant upswing in both overt and subtle acts of antisemitism have unsettled the Jewish community. I know I feel anxious and concerned. I don’t have a vine or fig tree in my yard, but I do know where the coffee shop is, and whether we agree or disagree, you’re invited to join me there.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Sermons

Yom Kippur: Hope, Despair And A Shining Sun
Yom Kippur: Hope, Despair And A Shining Sun

Yom Kippur 5783 Like many of the quotes and poems that make their way into use, a poem attributed to an anonymous person in a concentration camp, or in hiding, became somewhat of an urban legend, and has often been taken out of context, as well as not accurately...

Kindness

Kol Nidre, 5783 On Rosh Hashanah, we began our prayers in the hopes of moving God, the Holy Blessed One, from kisei din, the throne or seat of judgment, to kisei rachamim, the throne or seat of compassion. Ten days later, here we are at the eve of Yom Kippur,...

Shema: Listening, Hearing and the Shofar

Rosh Hashanah 5783, Day 2 The word, “Shema.” What do you think of when you hear it? Usually, we think of “The Shema” as the verses we chant or sing from the book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, and in that context, it’s a bold theological statement. It is an idea which goes...

Latest Midrash HaZak

Bo: Telling Our Story, Enhancing our Senses
Bo: Telling Our Story, Enhancing our Senses

Bo: Telling Our Story, Enhancing our Senses Rabbi Sue Live Elwell When we turn to the texts that have accompanied many throughout the days of their lives, we look for directional signs that may be useful to us as we navigate our final days and years. As we age, we...

Emor: Questioning The Status Quo
Emor: Questioning The Status Quo

Emor: Questioning The Status Quo Dr. Betsy Stone I am fascinated by this parsha, with its juxtaposition of HOLY days and UNHOLY people. Emor begins by telling us how a Kohen may be defiled/ritually impure–by visiting a graveyard, shaving parts of their heads or...

Miketz: Preparing For Life’s Journey
Miketz: Preparing For Life’s Journey

Miketz: Preparing for Life's Journey Rabbi Dayle Friedman In Parashat Miketz, we encounter Joseph as a person growing in wisdom. For the third time in his life, he is moved to interpret a pair of dreams. As a youth, Joseph reports two dreams in which he is a center of...

Latest Personal Blogs

Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem
Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem

This past week, I participated in a Ritualwell class with Alden Solovy on "Writing From One Word of Torah." I distilled 3 stream-of-consciousness prompts on the word "Baruch/Berekh," the root of which can mean "blessing' and "knee, into this poem. Blessing my bended...

The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives
The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives An email from My Jewish Learning about “A Woman of Valor” prompted me to pivot the next evening’s planned adult learning session to looking at these 22 verses from Mishlei, the Book of Proverbs. These verses...

Live Long and Prosper?
Live Long and Prosper?

By Oklahoma Heritage Association, Gaylord-Pickens Museum - Author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25656727 Live Long and Prosper? January 5, 2022 began the third year of the seven and a half-year cycle of Daf Yomi, the practice of...

Pin It on Pinterest