Yeshayahu Sixty-Six: Hallel Yaffe Ariel

I’ve been surprised lately at how much I’ve been allowing politics and current events to seep into my Tanakh reflections. But I guess now that there’s less narrative to contend with, and more of a need to draw out connections, it’s only natural. Today is the last chapter of Isaiah, which has been the longest book that I’ve read thus far. It’s been a different challenge from the earlier books of Nevi’im, where I was hard-pressed to find meaning in lists of names and battle stories. Instead, I’ve been reading lyrical poetry and picking verses to delve deeper into. I’m a former English geek, so I’m interested to see the differences in tone as I move on to the next prophet, Jeremiah. With over 50 chapters in that book, there’s a lot to get acquainted with, and it should take me through the rest of the summer.

As has happened many times before, there’s a verse in this final chapter that jumped out at me for its relevance. This morning, I woke up to the news that last night in Israel, a thirteen year old girl was brutally murdered in her bed by a Palestinian terrorist. She was butchered, for no reason other than blind hatred. And now her mother, her father, her sisters, and all of Israel, are deprived of her light, of the person that she would have grown into. How can a mother be expected to get over a loss like that?

“Like a man whose mother consoles him, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem, you shall be consoled (Isaiah 66:13).” There are no words. If, God forbid, I encountered horror like that in the loss of my loved one, I can only imagine that I’d be full of rage, hate, anger. I don’t know how anyone could be consoled after a loss like that, but here we are taught that God is there to console us. I don’t know if I believe that, but my prayer as I close this book is that the family of Hallel Yaffe Ariel be comforted among the mourners of Jerusalem, and that her memory will always be a blessing.

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