This week’s haftorah brings us to the final dimensions of the consolation of the Jewish people. The prophet Yeshaya shares with us a glimpse into the glorious era of Mashiach and reveals Hashem’s indescribable sensitivity towards His chosen nation. Yeshaya begins, “Rise and project your light, because the radiance of Hashem shines upon you.” (60:1) In the days of Mashiach, the Jewish people will be privileged to reflect the light of Hashem unto the nations of the world. Yeshaya continues, “The nations will walk with your light and the kings to the brilliance of your radiance. Lift your eyes and see all of them coming to you; your sons will come from afar and your daughters will be accompanied by the kings of the world.” (60:3-5) The darkness and confusion which continuously plague society will finally be lifted and the entire world, nations included, will come to Jerusalem in streams to discover the truths of Hashem and His Torah. Instead of the all too familiar sight of the Jewish people being forced into exile the tables will now be turned. Not only will the nations release the Jewish people and allow them their return to Israel, they will personally escort the Jewish people back to their homeland. And to complete the process, the nations will display personal interest in the Jewish people’s traditions and homeland and will flock to Israel in appreciation for all that the Jewish people represent. The influx will be so overwhelming that the Jewish people will wonder if they are imagining these sights or if, in truth, the world has made a full turnabout.
The prophet continues, “Their multitudes of camels will cover your streets…Everyone will come from Sh’va carrying gold and incense. All the choice sheep of Kedar will gather to you …. to be offered on My altar and accepted with desire.” (60: 6, 7) The nations of the world will sincerely appreciate the value of service to Hashem and will continuously approach Him with their abundance of sacrifices. Instead of their ruthless campaign over the past thousands of years to destroy and secure the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash they will finally realize its spiritual significance and will utilize it to capacity. The prophet adds, “And foreign nations will build your walls and their kings will contribute the funds.” (60:10) Even the demolished walls of Israel’s cities will be rebuilt by her oppressors, nations who previously acted so foreign to the Jewish people.
Hashem explains the reason for this unexpected reversal and says, “For in My anger I smote you and with My desire I will have compassion for you.” (60:10) Needless to say, the experiences of the Jewish people are unparalleled by any other nation. Their extent of decline, persecution and tragedy covers the pages of world history with awesome proportions. This is because they, and only they, are the direct subject of Hashem’s disturbance and anger. Unlike the nations of the world who are generally ignored by Hashem the Jewish people are in His constant focus. But this is only the first part of the story. Because, in these very same proportions the Jewish people are, and will be, the direct subject of Hashem’s concern and compassion (see Metzudos Dovid). Therefore Hashem pledged to reverse the Jewish people’s unpleasant past and replace it with their glorious future. Hashem committed to undo all of His people’s negative experiences and to replace them with indescribable positive ones.
The Jewish nation has not forgotten their pain and shame of exile and this feeling must be rectified. Hashem, therefore, informs them that their return from exile will be through none other than those very same nations who were responsible for the Jewish exile. They will personally escort the Jews back to their homeland with dignity and respect, and will actually anticipate with glee the special opportunity of joining the Jews in the land of Israel. Regarding this, Yeshaya says, “And the sons of your past oppressors shall humbly walk to you and all of your previous scorners shall prostrate themselves before you.” (60:14) In fact, as we cited earlier, these very same nations and sovereigns who previously labored so diligently to tear down the walls of Israel will now personally rebuild them.
The prophet completes the picture and states in the name of Hashem, “In place of copper I will bring gold, in place of steel I will bring silver. I will convert your previous tax collectors into peaceful acquaintances and your oppressors into charitable associates.” (60:17) Hashem’s compassion for His people knows no bounds and demands that even their financial oppression must be rectified. Therefore in place of the oppressors’ unwarranted tax collections from the Jewish people, these same oppressors will offer the Jews an abundance of personal monetary gifts. All the stolen Jewish wealth will be graciously returned tenfold and in addition these same collectors will generously contribute considerable financial resources to the Jewish people. (see Radak, Malbim) The sum total of Hashem’s restoration plan for the Jewish people is described by Yeshaya in the following verse, “Instead of your previous status, forsaken and despised I shall establish you the majesty of the world, the joy for all generations.” (60:15)