Berchot HaHaftarah..Blessings for the words of the prophets

Title: Blessings of the Prophets Artist: Marlene Burns ©2013

We are proud to present for your contemplative explorations another meditation by Artist Marlene Burns.

“Blessed are You, O Lord, our G-d, King of the universe,

Who has chosen good prophets,

and was pleased with their words of truth.

Blessed are You, Lord, Who chooses Torah,

Moses (His servant), Israel (His nation)

and the prophets of truth and righteousness.”

The blessing above is chanted during the Shabbat service before we read the Haftarah to the week’s Torah portion.  The Haftarah comes from the books of the Prophets, and is connected by theme to the Torah portion.  The painting to the left, titled, “Blessings of the Prophets” from the Judaica collection of artist Marlene Burns, is an artistic rendering of those words of blessing.  During times of exile, only the words of the prophets could be studied.

The darkness at the bottom of the painting signifies exile with onlythe prophetic words breaking through it. The words are represented by eighteen streams of metallic color dripping down through the darkness. The number of streams equals the numeric value for the word chai. The words of the prophets gave our people life (chai) by keeping Judaism alive during the times of exile without the benefit of our Torah to guide us.

The Haftarah trope marks that guide the chanter in proper cantillation, are boldly painted in black against the red background. G-d is represented by the vibrant red. The dramatic movement in this dynamic area serves as a reminder that G-d did not forsake His people during the times of exile.

The three circles represent the three things we acknowledge in these Haftarah blessings that G-d has chosen for His people –
the Torah, Israel (the nation) and the prophets (including Moses).