I hate to say this, but this Shabbat is a signal that the High Holidays are coming.
We turn a page in the Torah cycle and begin reading the book of Dvarim or Deuteronomy, which will be our backdrop from now all through the High Holidays until Simchat Torah in mid-October. This Shabbat begins the week when we commemorate Tisha B'Av. That's a fast day, a kind of seasonal book-end matched with Yom Kippur.
The other voice belongs to the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah). Each of the haftarah readings comes from the last half of the book of Isaiah, except for this week's which comes from the first chapter.
Moshe and Yeshayahu are our two guides as we get ready for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It's time to get focused on teshuvah -- on looking into ourselves and at ourselves, on assessing our relationships with others and taking steps to repair them if needed. Moshe's voice is insistent -- you need to do this! Yeshayahu's voice is encouraging -- you can do this!
Moshe is concerned that we will forget the things that should guide our life. He spends the coming weeks reviewing the laws, reminding us where things veered off course, warning us of dangers. If he could, he might just step in and make sure we don't do the wrong thing, that's how it sounds sometimes! But he knows he is not going with the people into the new land. He knows that only we, each of us, can go ahead into the new year. So Moshe reminds us of the rewards that come from leading our lives in line with God's wisdom.
Yeshayahu is concerned that failure, suffering, and pain will cause us to lose hope that things can ever change for the better. Historically, he preached when decades of destruction and exile were coming to an end, in the sixth century B.C.E. He knows that we hear voices that cause us to doubt ourselves and the power of the Divine. Yeshayahu sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and in his mind's eye we're already there, shining in our glory.
Each week in the synagogue we'll be able to hear these two voices. These two prophets, from Deuteronomy and Isaiah, are your personal teshuvah assistants in the weeks leading up to the High Holidays. Pay attention to them, concentrate on them even more than the specific words, laws, exhortations. It's possible you need to hear one more than the other this year -- more Moshe or more Yeshayahau, more goading or more cheering, more "come on!" or more "you've got it!" It's possible that will change from week to week. In any combination, they can help you frame your approach to the season of reflection and change.