Unfortunately, as mentioned in my previous entry, my computer is broken and I must write ths on a computer devoid of hebrew fonts or my usual resources.
This week's haftarah, the very beginning of the book of Isaiah, is officially my favorite because it is also the most difficult to "perform". It changes trop five times, alternating between normal haftarah and that of the book of Lamentations. Sure, it's a depressing haftarah, but as the second floor of MSRH from 2002-2003 (Holler! J! T! S!) will remember, the second biggest obsession on the floor (besides Prof. Seth Schwartz) was Eicha trop. We would converse in it! Some fun facts about this trop is that it is used in more forums than any of the other trops. There is a verse in this week's Torah portion, Dvarim 1:12, I believe, that begins "Eicha Esa Levadi", which is traditionally read in Eicha trop in the midst of all the torah trop. (I want to point out that this is one of the only cases where a weekday reading is longer than the first aliyah of shabbat. It goes from 1:1-1:11 on monday wednesday but on Shabbat the first one ends on 1:10 so as to not begin the second aliyah with eicha trop. So this haftarah is also mostly in eicha trop, as is the haftarah for the morning of Tisha B'Av which is entirely in Eicha outside of the penultimate and final lines. The chapter of Megilat Esther which I have performed for the past two years is Chapter four, which I chose because it has more Eicha trop than any other chapter. Interestingly Eicha and Esther trops are very closely related, with the former being the minor of the other's major.
Alright so the haftarah, which, by the way, is one of only two haftarot I have layned since my Bar Mitzvah, the other being my actual Bar Mitzvah haftarah, Machar Cbodesh
(I like the exotic ones...), is trying, like so many other Haftarot, to be a wakeup call. For the most part here, God is berating us for being stubborn idiots. The prophet writes, "the oxen knows its owner, the ass recognizes its master, but Israel doesn't know, My nation doesn't recognize". Oh snap! God goes on to compare us to Sodom and Gomorrah, tells us we have blood on our hands, and bewails what we have done and what has forced our fate. Very powerfully, He says that He doesn't desire fire offerings and sacrifice, in fact these rituals seem hypocritical to Him without backing it up with intention, they make Him sick. He wants us. He wants us to make teshuva. He does allow us ways out, if we would but purify ourselves by turning back to the Lord, "our sins would be expunged, if they are red as scarlet, they can be white as snow. The Tabula Rasa is just waiting for us, if we would but listen and heed. The crescendo and whenever I read this verse I read it loudest and slowest and with most emotion because it contains the title of the trop: "Eicha Hayta L'Zona, Kirya Nemana!" How the faithful town has become a whore!" Righteousness replaced by murder...
Toward the end, there is disagreement as to which verses you return to haftarah trop for the final time. The first time I leyned it, I did it with the penultimate verses, but last time I read it with the last four verses. The third-to-last line is questionable in its inflection "purging your dross with lye"?!, what does that mean?! and in the fourth-to-last verse, who are God's enemies and adversaries. I don't know, but we get to the normal pessimism of the majority of haftarot so I choose to read it in normal trop.
On this the third shabbat of the Tlata D'Puranuta (Aramaic for Three [Weeks] of Admonition), we are coming on the home-stretch, we descend in these three weeks into a very steep, very deep valley, but fear not, for following Tisha B'Av it's all up-hill (which is not actually fun if you're walking, because it's a lot harder), and for seven weeks we will be comforted (you will see next week for Shabbat Nachamu).
I apologize if I seem a little scattered. I took a looooooooooooong jog/walk today and am pretty tired...
Have fun with the Eicha trop (such a morbid obsession...)