2016-Oct-08  Shabbat Shuvah 5777

We read Micah today for two reasons. 1) It follows Jonah, which we read last month, in the traditional order of the Prophets, and 2) in preparation for Yom Kippur where the final few verses of the book are read.

Like other Prophets, Micah says we have screwed up big-time and will suffer the consequences — yet there is forgiveness and hope.

To a greater extent than other Prophets, Micah specifically addresses criticism against the rulers and elites of his day, who sound very much like the despots, demagogues, and depraved elites of our day.  Much of what Micah says could be directly taken from the newscasts: “You drive the women way from their pleasant homes, you deprive their infants of glory forever… Because of your defilement, terrible destruction shall befall.”

Then Micah addresses, what we might call today, the 99%: “And what the Lord requires of you — only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God.”   It is Micah that tells us to “beat our swords into plowshares”.

Micah is a poetic work that is easily read as verse. In structure, it changes voice like the preacher appealing to various emotions. For example, after several chapters of strident condemnation, Chapter 6 suddenly becomes a pleading (or taunting) voice, with God asking, “My people, what wrong have I done you?  …Tell me.”

Here are 7:18 to 7:20, the lines read in the afternoon of Yom Kippur:
Who is a God like You,
Forgiving iniquity
And remitting transgression;
Who has not maintained His wrath forever
Against the remnant of His own people,
Because He loves graciousness!

He will take us back in love;
He will cover up our iniquities,

You will hurl all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
You will keep faith with Jacob,
Loyalty to Abraham,
As You promised on oath to our fathers In days gone by.
May it come to be.