Haftorah – Parshas Shoftim

Parshas Shoftim

Yeshaya 51:12
This week’s haftorah reveals to us another impressive dimension of our final redemption. The haftorah begins with the words of Hashem to the Jewish people, “I Myself am the one consoling you.” (51:12) The people were informed that Hashem would personally comfort them and return them from exile. Hashem continues and says, “And I am your Hashem ….who will firmly establish you. Say to the inhabitants of Zion, ‘You are My people.'” (51:16) These passages reflect some hesitation on the part of the Jewish nation to return to Zion. There seems to be a serious concern in their minds regarding the permanence of their return. They have experienced several returns in the past which were not enduring and they question if this one will be any different. To this, Hashem responds that He will personally bring them back to Zion guaranteeing their everlasting return.

Chazal (see Yalkut Shimoni 474) explain the guarantee found within this response with a mysterious parable. They compare this situation to a king who became enraged at his queen. He was so disturbed over her behavior that he rejected her and banished her from the palace. After some period of time he reconsidered his actions and desired to reunite with her. He informed her of his intentions to which she consented on the condition that he doubled the amount of her “kesubah’ (marriage financial agreement). Chazal conclude that this same situation exists with the Jewish people. Hashem established His initial relationship with them when they accepted His Torah. At that time Hashem revealed Himself to His nation and proclaimed, “I am your Hashem.” However, this relationship suffered much abuse and was eventually terminated. The Jewish people’s behavior was so inexcusable that Hashem reluctantly rejected them and exiled them from Zion. Now, after so many years Hashem is displayi ng sincere interest in their return. Recognizing their failure during their first relationship, they are doubtful if this second one will be any better. Even after all the magnificent revelations at Sinai they managed to stray and forfeit their relationship. What would secure that things would be any different this time? Hashem responded that He would increase His revelations which would guarantee an everlasting relationship with His people.

The incredible extent of Hashem’s new commitment is presented to us at the close of the haftorah. Yeshaya says, “How beautiful is the sight on the mountain of the proclaimer of peace; proclaiming goodness and salvation and saying to Zion, “Your Hashem has come to rule …. the sound of your onlookers raising their voice in unison and singing, because with perfect clarity they will behold the return of Hashem to Zion.” Chazal in Yalkut Shimoni (428) explain to us the impact of these verses and remind us that until this point it was virtually impossible to behold Hashem’s presence with perfect clarity. Even when our nation did merit to sense Hashem’s presence, it was with great limitations. However, in the era of Mashiach, all restrictions will be removed. The Baal Haturim (see commentary to Bamidbar 14:14) echoes this thought and contrasts the nation’s experience at Mount Sinai to that of the era of Mashiach. Although the Jewish people once merited to “view” Hashem’s prese nce they were incapable of maintaining their faculties throughout their experience. When Hashem began this relationship and proclaimed, “I am your Hashem”, the experience was so overwhelming to them that they lost consciousness. In fact, Chazal (see Shabbos 88b) reveal to us that they were miraculously revived after each one of the commandments. This is in conjunction with the passage, ” For man can not see Me and live.” ( Shmos 33: 20 ) However, in the era of Mashiach the Jewish people’s capacity will be greatly increased and they will be capable of viewing Hashem with total clarity. This is what is meant in this week’s haftorah when it states, “Because with ‘eye to eye’ they will behold Hashem’s return to Zion.” The words, “eye to eye” indicate that we will “per se” look Hashem directly in the eye. Hashem’s return will be so tangible that they will actually merit to sense His presence with perfect clarity.

We now return to the parable of the king and gain new insight into the era of Mashiach. When the Jewish people received the Torah they experienced an elevated relationship with Hashem and merited to sense His Divine presence amongst them. However, this revelation was far beyond their physical and spiritual capacity and it did not produce everlasting results. When Hashem said, “I am your Hashem”, His words could not be fully absorbed and the Jewish people did not remain in a full state of consciousness. The revelation remained one sided, and only from Hashem’s standpoint was, “I am Hashem” shown in its fullest extent. However, from the Jewish people’s vantage point this revelation was not completely experienced and the relationship which followed was far from perfect. Eventually it came to an end with the Jewish people straying after strange ideals and false deities. Now, after a long period of rejection Hashem called upon the Jews to return. They responded with grave conc ern, “what will secure them from repeating their earlier failings?” Hashem answered, “‘I Myself’ am your redeemer.” With this double expression of His name, Hashem informed them that the upcoming relationship will be double sided. This time the Jewish people will absorb the revelations in their fullest form. During the era of Mashiach the Jewish people will be adequately prepared to receive Hashem’s presence in a full state of consciousness. Such revelations will yield perfect results and an everlasting bond will be established between Hashem and His people. This double expression, “I” and “Myself” reflects both a perfect revelation from Hashem’s standpoint as well as an adequate absorption from the Jewish people’s vantage point. In essence, Hashem will calm the Jewish people’s fears by doubling His marriage commitment. Not only will there be a perfect revelation from His side but even from our mortal perspective there will be total absorption of this revelation. Our “eye” – our sense of Hashem’s presence – and His “eye” – the actual degree of His revelation – will be one and the same. This will yield the most perfect relationship, an everlasting association with our true husband and father above. Oh! May we merit to see this day!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.