ישראל אשר בך אתפאר

In this penultimate haftora of comfort, Yeshaya speaks even more glowingly about our wonderful future. “Behold darkness may cover the earth and a thick cloud may cover the kingdoms but upon you, Hashem will shine and His glory will be seen upon you. (60:2). Never again will your sun set and your moon will not be withdrawn for Hashem will be to you an eternal light and the days of your mourning will be ended. Your people will be all righteous; they will inherit the land forever; a shoot of my planting, My handiwork in which I shall be glorified.” (60:20-21).

We are dumbstruck by such a prophecy. What more could we possibly hope for? The suffering of golus will pale into insignificance when we will enjoy eternal bliss. Just one question remains, which Yeshaya himself hints at in the next posuk. “The smallest (family) will increase a thousandfold and the youngest into a mighty nation. I am Hashem; in its time, I will hasten it.” When will this glorious era begin? “In its time, I will hasten it.” Some mefarshim understand this last phrase to mean that when the right time comes, Hashem will not delay. However Rashi sees a contradiction in these last words. “In its time” implies a set, predetermined time. “I will hasten it” implies that it could be earlier. And that is precisely how Rashi explains the posuk: if we merit it, Hashem will bring it earlier. If not, it will come at the right time. According to Rashi, then, if our behavior justified it, this most glorious era could begin already. It is a challenge and an opportunity but the problem is that Yeshaya doesn’t say which aspect of our behavior would trigger this early redemption. So we are left in the dark. Or are we?

The Rambam writes (Hilchos De’os 5:1) that just as a chochom is distinguished by his wisdom, he is also distinguished in his behavior. He does not overeat or eat voraciously. He is modest and respectful in his personal relationships. He doesn’t shout and speaks gently with others. He is the first to greet others. He judges people favorably and praises them. He loves and pursues peace. He walks with humility. He does not run wildly. His clothes are honorable and clean. His shoes are not torn. He honors his wife and children. His business dealings will be honest and will give others the benefit of the doubt. He pays immediately for what he buys. He prefers to be pursued than to be a pursuer, insulted rather than insult. About him, says the Rambam, is said the posuk, “Yisroel, in whom I shall be glorified.”

Interestingly these precise words are used by Yeshaya in today’s haftora. Could it possibly be that the examples of distinguished behavior mentioned by the Rambam are precisely the type of behavior which Yeshaya considered as the key to an early redemption? Why would this level of behavior be so crucial that it would earn us an early redemption?

In Matnas Chaim Reb Mattisyahu Salomon shlita discusses the halacha of putting our most valuable possessions on our Seder table. He says that the reason is to remind us of the time when we came out of Mitzrayim birchush gadol – with great treasure.” What was the significance of leaving Mitzrayim with great treasure? We do not consider material possessions to be an important part of living full Jewish lives. They are a useful asset, but some of our greatest leaders have been poor. And as we always say, “You can’t take it with you.” Surely key to Jewish life is the observance of mitzvos which can be done whether we are rich or poor.

When Hashem offered the Torah to the Jewish People at Har Sinai, He said that they could be a mamleches kohanim vegoy kodosh – a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Rashi translates kohanim not as priests but sarim – men of status. To be a king over poor people who are totally dependent on him does not bring him much honor. For a crowd of helpless refugees to have accepted the Torah would not have proved much. What choice did they have? Hashem wanted them to have a rechush gadol – a great treasure so that they would be a strong and potentially independent people. If they still accepted the Torah, that would be a Kiddush Hashem and Kovod Malchus. That is why they had to be rich. Similarly it is important for us to put our most expensive and beautiful possessions on our Seder tables to remind us that we were not nebachs when we left Mitzrayim but wealthy people. We had the option of building our own future, yet we opted to be Hashem’s People. Through such people, Hashem is glorified.

This, says the Matnas Chaim, is the significance of the qualities of the Talmid Chochom as listed by the Rambam. He is honorable and refined. He may not be materially wealthy but he is an aristocrat. He fulfills the Jewish people’s mission to be a mamleches kohanim vegoy kodosh. And as the Rambam concludes, this is the type of person about whom Hashem says, ‘Yisroel through whom I will be glorified.’

Yeshaya, in this haftora speaks about our glorious future but he doesn’t tell us clearly when this glorious new era will begin. He does mention, however, that Hashem will be glorified through the Jews. Perhaps he is referring to the aristocratic qualities which Jews need to show, as listed by the Rambam, as a prerequisite to this new era. The material success which He will bless us with in the future was already mentioned. “In the place of copper I will bring gold, in the place of iron I will bring silver.” (60:17) But nobility of spirit, dignity and gracious behavior can be ours even now in galus, making us worthy of an early redemption.

Oh Childless One, Sing and be Happy

In this latest haftora of comfort, for parshas Ki Seitzei, Yeshaya again looks forward to the great Geula of the future. “Oh childless one, sing and be happy… Make plenty of space for all the Jewish People who will be returning… They will burst out to the right and the left. They will inherit the nations and re-inhabit the destroyed cities.” (54:1-3).

It’s certainly comforting to we have a great future to look forward to. But we would like it to happen already. Why hasn’t it? Could Yeshaya be hinting to the reason?

Yeshaya describes the Jewish people in golus in different ways. Here he says, “childless one.” A few pesukim later (54:11) he uses the words, “afflicted, storm-tossed one.” Earlier (51:21) he said, “Drunk but not from wine.” It seems unlikely that Yeshaya was merely, varying his words for poetic effect. Each phrase has its own meaning and implications. In Eicha (1:2) Jerusalem is described as a widow. Why are there these different descriptions? Why did Yeshaya use the term, “childless one” here?

The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 11:1) writes that “Hamelech Hamoshiach is going to arise and restore the Malchus Beis Dovid, rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, gather in the Jewish exiles and restore all the Laws of the Torah as they were. There will be korbonos, shmitta, yovlos as written in the Torah. Anyone who doesn’t believe in this or doesn’t yearn for his coming has not only denied the prophets but the Torah and Moshe Rabeinu, since the Torah says that Hashem “will have mercy on you, will bring back the Jews who have been exiled to all the nations of the world.” The Rambam has brought a source that there will be an ingathering of all the Jews – not believing in this, is denying the Torah. But where is the source that we have to yearn for its fulfillment? And why do we have to look forward to it? There is no obligation to look forward to do any other time-related mitzva. Whenever the time of the mitzva comes, we will do it. One of the questions we will all be asked is “Tzipisa l’yeshua? Why is it not enough to believe that the Moshiach will come? Why do we have to look forward to this time?

The Rambam (12:1-4) goes on to describe what will happen in the days of Moshiach in more detail. “Do not imagine that there will be a change in the natural world. When the posuk in Yeshaya says that the wolf will lie with the lamb, and the leopard with the goat, this is a moshol referring to a period of peace between the Jews and the nations of the world, who will all return to true belief. The nations will not be violent nor will they plunder. We do not know the true meanings in these mosholim but we will find out when the time comes. The Chachomim and the Nevi’im did not look forward to the days of the Moshiach in order to rule over the whole world or to fight against the nations or in the hope that the nations will raise us up. And not to eat, drink and be happy. But to be free to delve into the Torah and its wisdom without disturbance and to earn merits for the world to come. Then there will be no famines, no wars, no jealousy and no competition. All good things will be freely available and everybody will be free to learn about Hashem. The Jewish People will be very wise, knowing hidden things and will understand their Creator as much as a person can; as is written, “The world will be full of knowledge of Hashem as the water covers the sea.” (Chabakuk 2:14).\

The Mishna says (Sukkah 41a) that at first there was an obligation to take the lulav  on the seven days of Succos in the Beis Hamikdash and elsewhere just on one day. After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, Reb Yochanan ben Zakai decreed that the lulav should be taken on all seven days of Succos wherever we are, to remind us of how it was in the time of the Beis Hamikdash. The Gemara asks, “Where is the source that we should do things to remind us of how things were in the time of the Beis Hamikdash? The Gemara brings a posuk (Yirmiyahu 30:17) “They called Zion ‘discarded’; no-one cares about her.” From which we can learn, says the Gemara, that we have to care about her.” Yirmiyahu has just prophesied, “I am saving you from distant places and your descendants from the land of their captivity. Jacob will return and will be at peace and tranquil and none will make him afraid.” (30:10) The Gemara understood that this wonderful prophecy has not materialized because we show too little concern for Zion — how it was in the time of the Beis Hamikdash with the joy of the Avoda, the thrice-yearly homage to Hashem and the constant miracles. We used to smell the fresh hot scent of the lechem hapanim even though it was baked seven days earlier, how a tiny amount of the lechem hapanim was totally satisfying, how the crimson cloth turned white, as teshuva was accepted on Yom Kippur, how the azoroh was packed but everyone had enough space to prostrate himself as well as all the other constant miracles. (Yuma 21a).

If we don’t appreciate our majestic past, if we are quite happy in the present, then in the future Hashem will not give us back what we lost. In order to merit the Geula we have to be like the widow in Eicha who constantly thinks back to the joyful times she had with her late husband.

We have also to look forward to the days of Moshiach as the Rambam reminded us. “Not to rule over the world, not to eat, drink and be happy but to spend our days learning the Torah and its wisdom without disturbance.” It is not enough to believe that the Moshiach will come. Longing for it shows who we really are, what is really important to us. Do we really want a new Beis Hamikdash, korbonos, shemitta and yovlos? Do we want more time to learn the Torah? If we don’t, we can’t expect Hashem to send us the Moshiach. This is why the question, “Did you look forward to the salvation?” is crucial.

Yeshaya promises us a future ingathering of the exiles, an idyllic peace portrayed poetically and famously as the wolf lying down with the lamb but only if we are like a childless woman who craves a child desperately.  We cannot accept the present situation of golus hashechina and chillul Hashem; a world of tzaddik vera lo, rosho vetov lo; a world where every third rate monarch has a resplendent palace while the Beis Hamikdash of the Creator of the world lies in ruins. The source of the Rambam could be this pasuk in Yeshaya.

This is how Yeshaya comforts us this week. Hashem is waiting to send the Moshiach. But do we want him? Does the absence of a Beis Hamikdash matter to us? Do we yearn for it? If we do, promises Yeshaya, we will merit it. The time to sing and be happy will have come.

Wake Up – Arise from the Dust

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.


Illuminating the Darkness

This week, the haftora from parshas Re’eh is only read in sefardi shuls. In ashkenazi shuls it is delayed until parshas Ki Teitzei. It is the next haftora in the shiva d’nechemta – the seven weeks of comfort by the nevi’im following Tisha B’Av. Yeshaya again prophesies our glorious future. (54:11-13) “O afflicted, storm-tossed one who has not been consoled, Behold I will set down gems as your flooring stones and lay your foundation with sapphires.  I will set your window-frames with ruby, make your gates of carbuncle stones and all your boundary of precious stones.” Yeshaya seems to tell us that, our financial circumstances will be very comfortable, unlike our years in Golus. Our homes will be built with the most precious stones, with ‘money no object.’ But is this a comfort? Is poverty the reason for our discomfort in Golus? Baruch Hashem the Jews don’t do so badly. Most of our homes are adequate and some verge on the luxurious. Poverty is not per se an intrinsic part of Golus. The Ramban writes: “…all the curses of the Torah are for Eretz Yisroel before the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash or immediately after based on our behavior then. (Devarim 28:42).  Once we have been exiled, the posuk says “lo me’astim velo ge’altim lechalosom – I will not reject them to destroy them.” “On the contrary,” says the Ramban,“our financial situation in Golus will be relatively benign on the whole, better than the non-Jews.” So in what sense are Yeshaya’s words a source of comfort to us?

I would like to suggest two different ways that Yeshaya is comforting us with these words. My first way is Yeshaya “leshitasei.Yeshaya in our haftora is alluding to a concept he spoke about a few chapters later, based on Rosh Hashana 23a. “Says Reb Yochanan, “Woe to the idol worshipers who will have no atonement, as is written, (Yeshaya 60:17), ‘In place of the copper I will bring gold, in place of iron I will bring silver, in place of wood, copper and in place of stones, iron.’” And what about Rebbe Akiva and other Jewish martyrs? How will their deaths be atoned for? About them it is written in Yoel 4:21 ‘Venikeisi, domom lo nikeisi.’  I will atone for those who stole from the Jews by forcing them to pay back what they stole, many times over but there is no atonement for those who shed Jewish blood.”

We do not look forward to the Redemption to become rich. But we will become rich anyway. If the nations plundered our copper they will have to give us gold; if they plundered our iron they will have to pay back silver and so on, as Yeshaya writes. With all the money paid as restitution by the nations, we will be able to build our homes with precious stones as Yeshaya said. The knowledge that those who stole will pay back many times over and those who shed Jewish blood will have no atonement is quite a comfort for us, even now. In fact it is heartwarming to anticipate the traffic jams all over the streets of Europe, especially down the autobahn, as trucks full of money make their way to Eretz Yisroel to pay back the Jews for what the non-Jews stole from us. And this is from those who only plundered. Those who killed Jews or even co-operated in the killing of Jews will not have a mere monetary punishment. Domom lo nikeisi they will have no atonement.

But Yeshaya may also be giving us comfort in a different way. After Moshe Rabbeinu appealed, at the beginning of Vo’eschanan, to be allowed into Eretz Yisroel he was told, “Rav lach.” Rashi in one explanation says that Moshe Rebbeinu was being told that he should stop davening to enter Eretz Yisroel because he will receive something more important. “Harbeh mizeh shamur lecha .” What will Moshe Rabbeinu receive that is more important than Eretz Yisroel? Perhaps we can understand this if we refer to a similar statement said to Aaron Hakohen. When he was upset that he wasn’t included in the Chanukas Hamizbe’ach, he was told, “Shelecha gedola mishelohem.” There Chazal concluded the phrase, “She’atah madlik umeitiv es haneiros. Aaron’s role in preparing and lighting the menorah was more important than participating in the chanukas hamizbe’ach. (Bamidbar 8:2, Rashi) The menorah symbolized the Torah sheb’al peh as explained by many commentaries. It what sense was the Torah sheb’al peh more important than the Avoda in the Beis Hamikdash? And Moshe Rabbeinu symbolized Torah shebiksav which he brought down from Har Sinai. Perhaps he was also being told that, “Harbeh mizeh shamur lechah” – the Torah shebiksav which you represent is more important than Eretz Yisroel. In what sense?

Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron Hakohen together represented the Torah in its totality – Torah shebiksav and Torah sheb’al peh. The importance of Torah is greater than both Eretz Yisroel and the Beis Hamikdash because, despite their huge significance, Klal Yisroel can survive without them, as evidenced by the nearly two thousand years of our present golus. But without the Torah we could not have survived more than a few generations. In this sense, for both Moshe and Aaron, “Shelecha gedola mishelohem. Their zechus and consequent reward is greater than those of who enter Eretz Yisroel or who participate in the Avoda in the Beis Hamikdash.

The very next posuk of Yeshaya after the description of our homes adorned with precious stones says, “Kol bonayich limudei Hashem verav shalom bonayich – all your children will be students of Hashem and they will enjoy peace.” The Malbim learns that the stones Yeshaya speaks about are symbolic of spiritual concepts. We can now explain that Yeshaya is comforting the ‘afflicted, storm-tossed one who cannot be consoled’ by assuring her that her children will return to her and even before they return to her, she can be comforted that they will be like precious stones. Even in golus, the Jewish homes will be adorned with the Torah which will be learned and practiced in them. “All your children will be students of Hashem and will be like precious stones in their determination to remain loyal to the Torah. Their beautiful middos tovos will shine in contrast to the coarseness of those not privileged to have the Torah’s inspiration. Their faith in Hashem will glow in contrast to the godless world around them. Their purity will illuminate the darkness of a world which in every generation tries to destroy the Jews to salvage their own conscience. And because of this, Hashem guarantees their survival and their eventual return.

In the merit of the Torah, Yeshaya assures and comforts us, “Mountains may move, hills may fall, but My  covenant with you will always remain, (54:10).

Rabbi Fletcher is the mechaber of the popular Family Halacha Series, Do You Know Hilchos Shabbos? Do You Know Hilchos Brachos? and Do You Know Hilchos Chol Hamoed? and his hashkafa sefarim, From Strength to Strength, Dancing in our Hearts and The Hidden Light.

He Promised

As we move through the shiva d’nechemta, the seven weeks of comforting by the nevi’im, we might remember Kiddushin 31b. Rav Abahu was an old man, in failing health when he asked his son Avimi for a cup of water. Avimi rushed to bring the water, but Rav Abahu had already dozed off. Rather than waken his father, Avimi crouched at the foot of the couch, glass of water in hand so that he could give his father a drink as soon as he woke up. While Avimi waited, he thought of a new interpretation of Tehilim 49, Mizmor L’Asaf. Rashi explains that Avimi had a question on the the words, “Mizmor l’Asaf.” The first pasuk says, “The nations have entered Your inheritance,” referring to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The opening words should have been kina l’Asaf– a dirge of Asaf, rather than “Mizmor L’Asaf” a song of Asaf. As Avimi was crouching at his father’s feet, he had siyatta dishmaya and realized the positive side of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash – He poured out His wrath on wood and stones. Rather than destroying the Jewish People for sins which made them unworthy of the Beis Hamikdash, Hashem destroyed the Beis Hamikdash. Now the Jewish People could do teshuva and be blessed in the future. Was there any connection between the fact that Avimi was just then crouching at the feet of his old, sick father and this optimistic interpretation of the Mizmor L’Asaf?

After the Romans had destroyed the Beis Hamikdash, Rebbe Akiva was once walking with Rabbon Gamliel, Rebbe Elozor ben Azariya and Rebbe Yehoshua. They noticed a fox coming out of the place which had been the Kodesh HaKadashim. Three of these great tannaim were so distraught that they cried, yet Rebbe Akiva laughed. He explained that since the prophecy of Micha which said, “Zion will be ploughed over like a field and Har Habayis will become like heaps of stone in the forest,” has been fulfilled, surely the prophecy of Zechariah that, “Old men and women will again sit in the streets of Yerusholayim with their staffs in their hands because of old age and streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing,” will also be fulfilled. (Makkos 24b).

“Knesses Yisroel asked Hashem, ‘Engrave me on Your Heart,’ Hashem answered, ’My daughter, why do you ask for something which is sometimes seen and sometimes not seen? I will engrave you on the palm of My hand which I will always see.’(Taanis 4a). As the pasuk says, “Behold I have engraved you upon My palms.” (Yeshaya 49:16).

One of the six constant mitzvos is remembering what Amalek did to us when we left Mitzrayim. What aspect of Amalek are we supposed to remember and why is “Do not forget.” repeated at the end of the paragraph.(Devorim 17-19) We tend to think that the pasuk is commanding us to remember the evil of Amalek and never forget to destroy the Amaleki nation. However the Sefer Hachinuch has a completely different explanation. He says that the mitzva is to remember how Amalek attacked the Jews and how Hashem defeated and destroyed them. We must always remember and never forget that the same will happen to all enemies of the Jews who want to destroy us, that Hashem will destroy them.

In the Shemone Esrei we say, “Ki lishu’oscho kivinu kol hayom. – We have hoped for your salvation the whole day.” Is it true? Do we hope for Hashem’s salvation the whole day? Are we never involved in other matters which distract us from thinking about Hashem’s salvation?

A true story is told of a man who constantly expressed his love for his son. He assured him that he would always be there for him. ‘If you ever have any problem, I will come to help you.’ One terrible day, an earthquake struck the town where his son lived. The authorities informed the families that it was impossible for anyone to have survived in the flattened buildings. The father came immediately to see if he could do anything to find his son. “Maybe, just maybe, he is trapped but still alive.” The authorities said it was futile. The father refused to accept his son’s death and ran to the exact spot where he reckoned his son must have been when the earthquake struck. Indeed it was completely flattened with no sign of life. However the father began digging with whatever tools he had. After a whole day he was totally exhausted from his efforts and had achieved very little. The next day he was back digging down inch by inch. Nightfall came with no results. He came back on the third day with helpers and more tools and continued working. As nightfall approached, the father noticed that the ground was slightly softer and he thought that maybe it was a sign of something.  Soon a hole appeared and, miracle of miracles, he saw his son underneath with some other boys trapped under a table, weak and dirty, but still alive. As his father jumped down to embrace his son, the boy turned to his friends and said, “I told you my father would come to rescue me. He promised.”

While Avimi was waiting for his father to wake up, he must have thought how physically weak his father had become. Perhaps he wondered why Hashem had transformed a healthy man, the leader of a generation to a state where he could hardly stay awake. Perhaps he realized that we have such questions because our perspective is so limited. Hashem has His reasons for everything He does. Everything is for the best. Hashem was visibly preparing Rav Abahu for his future life in Olam Haba, where he would not need his physical body. Avimi might have moved on to the question of why Hashem allowed the Beis Hamikdash to be destroyed. He would have realized that Hashem could not simply have abandoned us. He has promised never to forget us. Avimi concluded that it was an act of kindness that Hashem poured out his wrath on wood and stones, allowing the Jewish People to live on.

“In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us.” Like Amalek, they will all be defeated and we will live on, b’ezras Hashem. Hashem sees and looks after the Jewish People continuously. He cannot forget us, because we are engraved in “the palm of His hand.” To Hashem a day is like a thousand years; throughout that “day’ when we suffered expulsions, persecutions, pogroms and a Holocaust, we never lost our faith and our confidence in Hashem’s ultimate salvation. Like Rebbe Akiva we saw, even in the depths of exile, the seeds of future redemption.

Yeshaya tells us, (49:14-15), “Zion perhaps thinks that Hashem has forsaken her, He has forgotten her.” Not true, says the navi. “Can a mother forget her baby, not have mercy on the child of her womb? And even if she would, I will never forget the Jewish People.” This is Yeshaya’s comfort to us. Hashem will never forget us. He loves us like “the apple of his eye.” We may go through difficult times but salvation will come eventually. He promised.