Although Yeshaya has tried to comfort us in the first three weeks of the shiva d’nechemta, we still need more words of encouragement to help us survive spiritually during our long exile. What new ideas can this week’s haftora of Shoftim bring to our attention?
“Anochi, anochi hu menachemchem,” begins Yeshaya. “Only through Me can you be comforted.” Looking to false gods for comfort does not help. Don’t imagine that the religions of the world have answers not found in the Torah. Don’t think that immersing yourself in materialism will help. Don’t turn to drink to find solace. You will emerge from Golus only through maintaining your belief in Me and My Torah .
“Mi at vatiri me’enosh yomus umiben odom chatzir yinasein.” Don’t think that your salvation is dependent on man who is here today but tomorrow in a grave.
“Vatishkach Hashem osecha noteh shomayim veyoseid oretz. Have you forgotten Me who created you, who spread out all the heavens and established the earth?”
“Ani Hashem Elokecho rogah hayom veyemu galov.” I am Hashem your G-d who decrees that a stormy sea calms down.
“Hashem Tzevokos Shemo.” “I am the G-d of the sun and moon, the planets, stars and galaxies.”
Clearly I am the one to whom you should turn for help. How have you survived as a people all this time? In what merit have you outlived all the ancient empires?
“Vo’osim devorai beficho uvetzeil yodo kisisich.” It is only because of your loyalty to the Torah which I put in your mouth to speak that I have protected you in the shadow of My hand.
This is how Yeshaya reinforces our belief and trust in Hashem. If this most powerful Creator is on our side to protect us, surely this is our greatest comfort . True, Golus is not easy. We are not in our land, we have no Beis Hamikdash with its open miracles where we went three times a year to pay homage to Hashem. We do not enjoy the material blessings which are appropriate for Hashem’s loyal followers. But who are we to presume to understand why we have been in Golus so long? The One who created the world and rules over the whole universe surely has His reasons for everything. A child may have no idea why his mother has taken him away from his toys and is walking with him down the road. As long as he is holding his mother’s hand, he is content. In her child’s eyes, a mother is all-knowing.
Now Yeshaya tells us the comforting, joyous news – after two thousand years Golus is almost over. We have fulfilled the conditions for the Geula.
“Hisorari, hisorari kumi Yerusholayim asher shosis miyad Hashem es kos chamoso es kuba’as kos hatareila shosis motzis. – Wake up, wake up. Rise, O Jerusalem, you have drunk from the hand of Hashem the cup of His anger. You have drunk and drained the sediments of the cup of bewilderment.” Yeshaya is telling us, who have suffered at the hand of the nations of the world for two millennia, not only that have we already drunk the cup of Hashem’s anger because of aveiros we did in exile but we have drained even the last dregs of that cup. We have fulfilled every one of the curses in the Torah. We have been cursed in the city and cursed in the field. We have been cursed when we came in and when we went out. The heavens over our heads turned into brass and the land became iron. Our carcasses have been left for food for the bird of the sky and the beast of the earth. We built houses but we did not live in them, planted vineyards and never ate from their fruit. We became a parable – ‘the wandering Jew’ and an object of hateful slander – blood libels which continue to this day. We lived through days when we yearned for the night but on that same night we yearned for the day. We have been scattered among the peoples from one end of the earth to the other. Every sediment of that cup of anger we have already drunk. Now it is time to rejoice.
“Uri, uri, livshi uzeich tzion livshi bigdei sifarteich Yerusholayim ir hakodesh. Wake up, wake up. Adorn yourself, Zion, with a re-established Beis Hamikdash, Kehuna, Sanhedrin, Malchus. (Malbim). Adorn yourself with clothes of splendor, Yerusholayim, because impure people will no longer enter you. Hisnaari me’ofor kumi. Shake off your dust and arise.” Pitzchu ranenu chorvos Yerusholayim ki nicham Hashem amo, go’al Yerusholayim. Burst out and sing, O ruins of Yerusholayim, because Hashem has comforted His people, He has redeemed Yerusholayim.