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Tazria-Metzora Haftorah in a Nutshell

Tazria-Metzora Haftorah in a Nutshell

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II Kings 7:3-20.

This week's haftorah discusses the story of four men stricken by tzara'at, a skin ailment caused by sins -- one of the main topics of this week's Torah reading.

Haftorah's backdrop: King Ben-Hadad of Aram besieged Samaria (the Northern Kingdom of Israel). The resulting famine was catastrophic, reducing many to cannibalism. King Jehoram of Israel wanted to execute the prophet Elisha, considering that his prayers could have prevented the entire tragedy. Elisha reassured the king: "So has G-d said, 'At this time tomorrow, a seah of fine flour will sell for [merely] a shekel, and two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel in the gate of Samaria.'" One of the king's officers present scoffed at the prophecy: "Behold, if G-d makes windows in the sky, will this thing come about?" Elisha responded, "Behold, you will see with your own eyes, but you shall not eat there from."

Now, four men suffering from tzara'at dwelled in quarantine outside the city. They too were hungry, victims of the famine. They decided to approach the enemy camp to beg for food. They arrived only to find a deserted camp. For "G-d had caused the Aramean camp to hear the sound of chariots and the sound of horses, the sound of a great army. And they said to one another, 'Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us.'" The entire enemy army fled, leaving behind their tents, horses, donkeys and provisions.

The four men went to the city and reported their findings to the gatekeepers who, in turn, informed King Jehoram. Though originally thinking that this was an ambush planned by the enemy, the king sent messengers who confirmed the miracle. The people swarmed out of the city and looted the enemy camp, thus breaking the famine and fulfilling Elisha's prophecy.

And the officer? The king placed him in charge of the city gates. He was trampled to death by the rampaging crowds -- after seeing the fulfillment of the prophet's words...

This is a synopsis of the Haftorah that is read in Chabad synagogues. Other communities could possibly read more, less, or a different section of the Prophets altogether.
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