The haftarah1 for Lech Lecha extols the virtues of the Jewish people, the children of Abraham, in contrast to other nations of the world. It encourages us to stay strong during the exile—that we should not be afraid because G‑d is always with us, and He can be relied upon. Ultimately, it is us—the Jewish people, who put our hope in G‑d—who will be strengthened and redeemed, while the unrighteous nations will face Divine judgment for not recognizing Him, despite all the clear indications that He is the one and only true G‑d, and for all the suffering they put us through.

The connection to Lech Lecha is the references to Abraham, who with G‑d’s help journeyed away from idol-worshippers, taught the world about G‑d and proved victorious over powerful kings, events that are recounted in this parshah.

The parshah tells about the founding of the Jewish people and beginning of our mission in this world. It makes sense that the haftorah encourages us and extols the virtues that make us the chosen ones for Hashem’s plan. It also makes sense that it tells us about the final redemption because that is the goal and reward of our mission.

The haftarah opens with the reassurance that although we may feel at times our efforts to follow the Torah are being ignored by G‑d, that is never the case. Rather, His wisdom is beyond ours, even if we don’t understand why He puts us in situations that seem undesirable.

In the end, He is the One who “gives the faint strength.”2 Though the enemies of the Jewish people seem youthful and powerful, they will grow “tired and weary . . . and stumble. But those who hope in G‑d will renew (literally, “exchange”) their strength, grow wings like an eagle, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not tire.”3

Why does the verse use the word “exchange”? It means that when we use all our strength and become weary, then our limited strength will be exchanged for G‑d’s strength, which is unlimited. We will then be able to take our service to a whole new level, deepening our connection with G‑d ad infinitum. 4

We then read how G‑d will judge the nations. He will first reprove them and let them bring forth their arguments, if they have any, in defense. But G‑d will tell them that He sent them Abraham, who taught them about Him. They saw that G‑d was with him and did amazing miracles for him, and He gave him power over the mightiest kings. Yet they ignore the clear signs with cognitive dissonance, and they support each other in perpetuating lies, continuing to make and serve idols. As it says: “Each one will help his friend, and to his brother he will say, ‘Be strong.’ 5 ” All this just to hold on to idol worship.

The Midrash 6 explains this verse in a positive light, as it refers to Abraham and Shem, who support each other after the war between the four kings and the five kings, spoken about in our parshah. There is a lesson here for us as well. We should always help each other, and even when we cannot help, we should offer words of encouragement. 7

In contrast to the nations of the world, “You Israel my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, children of Abraham who loved Me.” 8 Sometimes, it is the children who bring out the greatness of their parents, as their conduct is a reflection of them, and it is only because of the parents’ virtues that the children are so wonderful. Same with the Jewish people. Because of our forefather Abraham, we have it in us to be amazing, and our actions show how great Abraham’s love for Hashem was. 9

The haftarah continues that G‑d will gather us from the ends of the earth, and that we should not fear because G‑d is with us. Even more, don’t be afraid, “For I am the L‑rd your G‑d, who holds your right hand.” 10

Then it says the strangest thing: “Do not fear, worm Yaakov.” 11 Why are we called a worm? This worm we speak of here is weak. Its only strength is in its mouth, with which it can destroy cedars. Same with us. Our power is not in our bodies; our true strength is in our mouths. Through our Torah study and prayer, we can do amazing things.

This is also a lesson on the power of speech. We are told that when one speaks lashon hara—badmouthing another person—three are negatively affected: the one who says it, the one who hears it, and the one being spoken about. I understand why the speaker and the hearer are affected because they are both there when the words were spoken. But the one being spoken of is not there. Why would it affect him? Because our mouths are powerful, and when we speak badly of another, it brings out negative in that person.

The opposite is true as well. When you speak good of another, you bring out good qualities in that person even if they weren’t there before. Just imagine how much good we can do by using the power of our speech to lift others up.

Let us use our mouths for good things. Praying, learning Torah and bringing out good in others. If we do, we will change the world for good, and we will be able to experience the last words of the haftarah, that when Moshiach comes we “will rejoice in Hashem and glory in the Holy One of Israel.” 12 May it happen soon.