The weekly haftarah portion (i.e., reading from the Prophets) is usually thematically connected with the weekly Torah portion; however, beginning with the 17th of Tammuz until the end of the Jewish year, the connection changes. First we always read three prophetic portions of rebuke leading up to the fast day of Tishah B'Av. Then, following Tishah B'Av, and for the next seven weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah (i.e., the new year), we read selections of comfort that foretell of the future redemption of the Jewish people and the coming Messianic Era...
The haftarah for parashat Shoftim (Isa. 51:12-52:12) is the fourth of seven readings from the prophets that are consecutively read before Rosh Hashanah. These "haftarot of comfort" foretell of the restoration of the Jewish people and of the coming of the Messianic Era. In this week's reading, the LORD promised to personally comfort the Jews and restore the glory of Zion, despite their present suffering and exile:
אָנכִי אָנכִי הוּא מְנַחֶמְכֶם מִי־אַתְּ וַתִּירְאִי
מֵאֱנוֹשׁ יָמוּת וּמִבֶּן־אָדָם חָצִיר יִנָּתֵן׃
וַתִּשְׁכַּח יְהוָה עשֶׂךָ נוֹטֶה שָׁמַיִם וְיסֵד אָרֶץ
a·no·chi a·no·chi hu me·na·chem·khem, mi at vat·ti·ri
me·e·nosh ya·mut, u'mi·ben a·dam cha·tzir yin·na·ten?
vat·tish·kach Adonai O·se·kha, no·teh sha·ma·yim ve·yo·sed a·retz
"I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth."
For more information about this Haftarah, click here.
Note: Rosh Hashanah will begin in about five weeks (i.e., Sept. 24th at sundown). During the time leading up to the High Holidays, it is customary to engage in cheshbon ha-nefesh ("soul searching") and to derive comfort that God is forgiving and loving to those who sincerely turn to Him. The Jewish sages chose the seven "Haftarot of comfort" to encourage us to make our hearts ready for the upcoming High Holiday Season.