This week’s haftorah reveals to us the indescribable love that Hashem possesses for the Jewish people. The prophet Hosheia opens with warm words of blessing to the Jews and states, “The numbers of the Jewish people will be likened to the sand of the sea which cannot be measured or counted.” But Hosheia continues and says, “And instead of being denied the status of My nation, they will be regarded as ‘sons of Hashem.'” These words indicate a change in status, and suggest that the Jewish people will undergo a serious transformation. In truth, we discover after reading preceding passages that the Jewish nation actually forfeited their prominent status of the people of Hashem. “Hashem said, (Hosheia 1:9) call its name ‘not My nation’ because you are not My nation and I will not be to you…” But now, one passage later, we find that Hashem is blessing the Jewish people in unbelievable proportions. Instead of their earlier status as “the nation of Hashem”, the prophet even conveys upon them a newly earned title of “sons of Hashem.” One must question this sudden change of status and in particular its extreme proportions, going from total disassociation to the cherished sons of Hashem.
Our Chazal in the Sifri (D’vei Rav, Balak) raise this concern and explain this puzzling development with the following analogy. A king became enraged at his wife over her inexcusable behavior and immediately summoned a scribe intending to instruct him to prepare a divorce document. Within moments, the king’s wrath was quieted, long before the scribe even arrived. The king now faced a serious dilemma unwilling to disclose his peculiar change of heart. He finally resolved the dilemma and when the scribe arrived, the king instructed him to prepare a new marriage document doubling his previous financial responsibilities. Chazal’s hidden lesson can be understood in the following manner. Studying the analogy we sense the king’s deep love and devotion for his wife. Although he was angered almost to the point of totally rejecting his wife, the anger was not deep-rooted or lasting. Within moments he was appeased and his true affection was shown. In order to compensate for his painful suggestion of rejection, the king not only restored his relationship but even strengthened it. The thought of disassociation was too overpowering and the king sought to rectify matters by doubling his expression of affection.
Chazal reveal through this the depth of Hashem’s love and affection for the Jewish people. In the times of Hosheia the Jewish people strayed severely from the proper path and involved themselves in inexcusable practices. Hashem’s wrath was kindled and the prophet Hosheia was called to serve the Jewish people with rejection papers. The mere notion of rejection was sufficient to sensitize the Jewish people to the severity of their wrongdoings. Hashem’s expression of love for His people returned and He immediately retracted his suggestion and restored the Jewish nation to their prominent status of “His people.” However, Hashem wouldn’t stop there and permit this intended rejection to remain a factor in the chronicles of Jewish history. Hashem compensated for this suggested rejection and increased His display of affection for the Jewish people. From this point on, the Jewish people would enjoy a special relationship and would be regarded as Hashem’s children, not merely His loyal subjects. We see from this the indescribable love Hashem possesses for His people and we learn that even during moments of rejection Hashem’s true affection for the Jews is never effected.
This lesson finds its parallel in this week’s sedra regarding the special opportunity of the Jewish encampment. The Jewish people had been stationed at the foot of Mount Sinai for close to a year. During this time they developed a close association to Hashem through receiving the Torah and learning the word of Hashem. This intimate bond, however, was interrupted by an inexcusable plunge of the Jewish people into idolatry. Hashem’s wrath was kindled and Moshe Rabbeinu was immediately summoned to deliver the rejection papers. After the Jewish people were sensitized to the severity of their wrongdoings Hashem restored the Jews to their prominent status. But Hashem didn’t stop there; instead He sought to compensate for this intended rejection. In addition to His open demonstration of affection, resting His Divine Presence in the Mishkan, He would grant the Jews a special opportunity. He therefore permitted the Jewish people to camp around the Ark and encircle His Divine Presence thereby creating amongst them an indescribable sensation of embracing Hashem. Indeed Shlomo Hamelech refers to this encampment as an unbelievable experience of intimacy and sings in the name of the Jewish people, “And His flag was for me an expression of love” (Shir Hashirim 2:4)