Parashat Mishpatim: Haftarah
Illustration credit: Rebecca Kerzner

Haftarah הַפְטָרָה

This Shabbat is also Rosh Hodesh, when we celebrate a new month on the Jewish calendar. The new month we’re beginning is Adar Alef.
Any time Rosh Hodesh falls on Shabbat we read a special haftarah from the נָבִיא (navi, prophet) Yeshayahu. It’s a vision of hope and salvation, and it ends with the promise that, in a more perfect future, all nations will recognize God and come to Yerushalayim:
וְהָיָה מִדֵּי חֹדֶשׁ בְּחׇדְשׁוֹ
וּמִדֵּי שַׁבָּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ
יָבוֹא כׇל בָּשָׂר לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֺת לְפָנַי אָמַר ה'׃
And new moon after new moon,
And Shabbat after Shabbat,
All flesh shall come to worship Me
—said God.
This pasuk connects Rosh Hodesh to Shabbat, so that’s one obvious reason we read this haftarah on Rosh Hodesh that falls on Shabbat.
As you read or listen to the haftarah, can you notice ideas that connect to women? Yeshayahu describes Yerushalayim using feminine language:
שִׂמְחוּ אֶת יְרוּשָׁלַ͏ִם וְגִילוּ בָהּ
Rejoice with Yerushalayim and be glad for her
In addition, the haftarah talks about:
  • A woman giving birth (66:7-9)
  • A woman breastfeeding a baby (66:11)
  • A mother comforting her child (66:13)
These images might be another reason that this haftarah is a good choice for Rosh Hodesh. According to a midrash (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 45), Rosh Hodesh was a gift given to women in particular, as a reward for not giving their jewelry to build the עֵגֶל הַזָּהָב (eigel ha-zahav, golden calf)!