Isaiah 58:1-12

Isaiah 58:1-12

This excerpt of the traditional haftarah for Yom Kippur morning was translated by Rabbi Diane Elliot.

Call out full-throated, don’t hold back:
Raise your voice like a shofar
And tell my people where they went wrong!
Tell the House of Jacob, Leah & Rachel
how they missed the mark!

Day in, day out they seek Me
Say they’d delight in knowing my Way
Just like a nation that does the right thing
and hasn’t abandoned the Law of its G-d.
They ask me the rules of righteousness
and would eagerly draw near G-d.
They whine: “When we fasted, why didn’t You see?
Why, when we starved our bodies did You ignore us?”
Look! On the day of your fast
you’re still doing business,
wearing clothes made in sweatshops,
striving and arguing.
You expect me to open My hand
when yours are closed in tight fists?
Your fast isn’t worthy this day
to make your voices heard on high.
Would this be the fast I would choose,
a day for people to starve their bodies,
bow their heads like a bulrush and
languish in sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
A day when you are to align your
will with the Holy?
Rather, is this not the fast I would
choose for you—
to unlock the fetters of wickedness
untie the yoke cords,
send free the oppressed,
tear off every yoke?
Isn’t my true fast to share your
bread with the hungry,
to bring the homeless into your home?
When you see a naked one, to clothe her,
to not hide yourself from your own flesh-
and-blood?

If this were your fast
then your light would burst through like morning
and your healing sprout quickly;
your Righteousness would precede you
And the glory of YHVH gather around you.
When you would call, YHVH would answer.
When you would cry out, the Holy One
would say, “Hineni!

When you banish the yoke from your midst
the pointing finger and slanderous speech,
when you offer sustenance to the hungry,
and satisfy the souls of the famished,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
your gloom become bright as noon.
Then YHVH will guide you continually,
refresh your soul in parched places,
strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden,
like a well whose waters never fail.
Some among you will rebuild ancient wastelands.
Foundations for the generations will be raised up,
and you will be known as
the ones who break down old walls,
blaze trails to new ways of living.