Introduction to Micha
Micha was from the tribe of Yehuda, and learnt Torah from Yeshayahu. His contemporaries were Hoshea, Amos, and Yeshaya, but Micha was the youngest of them and he outlived them too. His ‘prophetic career’ began during the times of Uziyah king of Yehuda, and then spanned the reigns of Chizkiyah, Yossam, and Achaz.
Perek 1: Micha prophesied during the reigns of Yosam, Achaz and Chizkiyah. Micha declared that Hashem will act as a witness that he, Micha, has rebuked Bnei Yisrael. Micha added that both kingdoms were responsible for Hashem “departing from His sanctuary” to punish Bnei Yisrael and destroy Eretz Yisrael. Hashem, speaking through Micha, commented that He would “mourn and cry” in distress over Yehuda (Metzudas David). Micha lamented the loss of cities such as Gas, Afrah, Shaphir, Tzananm, Maras, Lachish, Achziv, Mareishah, and Adduaom. Micha told the cities to “pluck out hair” for the loss of their children.
Perek 2: Micha scolded Bnei Yisrael for not only committing robberies at day, but even planning these acts at night (Radak). Furthermore, they would exploit the poor, and make use of the anarchy and corruption in their society to seize land and possesions. Micha warned that Hashem would place an unbearable yoke of retribution upon Bnei Yisrael, preventing them from even “moving their necks”, and he mourned the loss of Eretz Yisrael to the enemy. Micha described how Bnei Yisrael did not allow the Neviim to deliver messages from Hashem (Radak), and cautioned that they should stop mocking these Neviim. Micha related that Bnei Yisrael failed to comprehend that Hashem’s ways are just; whenever they heard Hashem’s prophecies, they would think Him to be “short-spirited” (i.e. short-tempered). Bnei Yisrael would attack passersby and women were seized and abused. The nation was so corrupt that unless a Navi would promulgate drinking alcohol, he would be disregarded by the nation! However, Micha revealed that Hashem will gather Bnei Yisrael and protect them like a flock of sheep (Rashi). Eliyahu will pierce the hearts of the public to encourage them to repent (Metzudas David), which will enable Moshiach to come, facilitating Hashem’s ultimate revelation.
The Haftara of Shabbos Hagadol is from Micha 3:4-24
Micha rebuked Bnei Yisrael’s leaders for not administering justice and for exploiting the most vulnerable (Radak). Micha criticized the false Neviim for delivering messages of hope and “peace” in return for “meat” (Rashi). Micha predicted that Hashem will prove these prophecies to be false, therefore “night and darkness” (torment and suffering [Radak]) will engulf them. Yerushalayim will be desolate and ploughed over due to the leaders who “despise and pervert justice” (and assume they will not be punished) and the rulers, judges, and prophets who take bribes.
Perek 4: Micha foretold that in the era of Moshiach, Hashem will establish the Beis Hamikdash permanently on Har Hamoriah, and nations will flock to visit and to learn the Torah and the ways of Hashem. Bnei Yisrael will resolve international quarrels and all war will cease, allowing people to live together in harmony. Bnei Yisrael will be respected for clinging to Hashem throughout exile, unlike the other nations who followed other deities. Hashem will gather the “lame (tormented) and ostracized” Bnei Yisrael from exile (Radak) and will transform them into a mighty nation. Micha questioned why Bnei Yisrael relied on foreign support, rather than Hashem, but revealed that Hashem will redeem them from Bavel. The nations will then unite, and protest that Bnei Yisrael should be punished for their sins. The nations will not realize that this is a ploy to allow them to be destroyed simultaneously, as Bnei Yisrael will be given the strength to overcome their enemies. Bnei Yisrael will dedicate the spoils to Hashem. Meanwhile, however, Micha summoned Bavel to attack, for Bnei Yisrael would be punished for striking and degrading their Neviim.
The Haftara of Balak is from Micha 5:6-6:8
Although Beis Lechem is a small village, it will merit producing the Moshiach. Moshiach will arise after “the pains of childbirth” (i.e. the most intense suffering of Galus [Rashi]). The two kingdoms of Yehuda and Yisrael will unite (Rashi) under the rule of Moshiach, with the full backing of Hashem. A permanent peace will ensue and even if other nations will attack, they will be defeated. Moshiach will then rule over the world like a “lion” (Rashi). Hashem will destroy Bnei Yisrael’s weaponry and fortifications, as they will be redundant during this era of widespread peace (Radak). Hashem will eradicate witchcraft and idolatry. Likewise, He will eliminate the Bnei Yisrael’s enemies and treat them harshly for rejecting the Torah and loathing Bnei Yisrael.
Perek 6: The Avos are called to bear witness to the people’s ingratitude to Hashem (see Radak 6:1). Hashem dealt graciously with Bnei Yisrael; he sent us Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam, he transformed Bilaam’s curse into a blessing (Abarbanel), he accepted the death of 24,000 as attonement for the people at Shittim (Radak), and enabled them to progress to Gilgal (i.e. enter Eretz Yisrael) (Rashi). Micha asserted that Hashem does not want Bnei Yisrael to appease Him with sacrifices and contributions to the Beis Hamikdash, rather, they should “Perform justice, love kindness, and walk modestly with Hashem.” Micha told Bnei Yisrael to listen to the prophets’ harsh words. Bnei Yisrael were corrupt through financial dishonesty, lying, and robbery, and therefore they will be punished with food sicknesses (Rashi) and an unsuccessful harvest due to the enemy seizing the produce (Metzudas David). Micha warned that procreation will be irrelevant as the children will be massacred by the enemy (Radak). Bnei Yisrael will continue in the evil manner of Omri and Achav, so will receive an “astonishing” retribution.
Perek 7: Micha described the righteous as “the last picking of the summer fruit” and the only “ripe” fruit left over after the harvest (i.e.destruction). Corruption is commonplace and it is a great challenge to find righteous individuals – even officers, judges and senior individuals are corrupt. People cannot even trust their friends and colleagues and children are disrespectful to their parents. Micha reiterated that although he will be in exile, he will remain a devout believer in Hashem. The enemy should not rejoice in their power over Bnei Yisrael, as Bnei Yisrael will rise once more and the nations will be repaid for their evil deeds. When Hashem reveals Himself and the kindness He performed towards them throughout history, the nations will acknowledge their foolishness in taunting Bnei Yisrael with the rhetorical question “Where is Hashem your G-d?” Micha pleaded that Hashem take Bnei Yisrael out of Galus hastily, like a “shepherd would take his flock” (Radak). Hashem is forgiving, dispels his anger, and is merciful, so will not totally allot the deserved punishment. Micha begged that Hashem carry out his vow to Avraham never to abandon him or his descendants (Rashi). Note that the final three pesukim of Micha contain a special version of the thirteen attributes of G-d; the Zohar writes that this formulation was based on a more merciful level of Hashem than the thirteen attributes Moshe recorded in the Torah (for Moshe was speaking at a time of national sin and thus there had to be some strictness).