This week’s haftorah directs its focus towards Zion and presents her illustrious future in the time of the Jewish redemption. In the haftorah, we discover that after all the warm comforting words said to the Jewish people Zion still refused to be consoled. The prophet Yeshaya directs his words towards Zion and says in the name of Hashem, “You afflicted, stormy city who has not been comforted, behold I will lay your floors with precious stones and set your foundation with sapphire stones.” (54:11) In truth, the Jewish people have already returned to the land of Israel but Zion remained unconsoled. The thousands of years that Zion lay in ruins needed to be accounted for. In the past, she had been accustomed to being the center of the world, the most beautiful sight on earth. But that wonderful respect, dignity and appreciation was taken away from her and has been withheld for such an extended period of time. Instead of her previous splendor and glory she continuously faced shame, degradation and times of despair. Zion therefore responded to Hashem and requested compensation and consolation for her long forsaken life.
Hashem granted her request and told Zion that He would restore her tenfold to her original glory. In addition, Hashem pledged to establish Zion such a desirable city that even her floors and walls would be constructed from precious jewels and stones. Her physical beauty will transcend any existing structure and the city will literally sparkle and glisten. Every moment spent in Zion will be an unforgettable experience and everyone will be irresistibly attracted to her splendor and glory.
The prophet adds a special dimension to this glorious era and says, “And all of your children will be students of Hashem and much peace will be amongst them.” (54:13) The clarity of Torah knowledge will be so readily accessible that all of the children of Zion will be regarded students of Hashem Himself. Chazal in Yalkut Shimoni (Yeshaya 479) expound upon this verse and reveal that the confusion and diversity amongst the Jewish people are the result of the present system of learning. Until the era of Mashiach one must rely upon human beings with their limited intellectual capacities to transmit the Torah from teacher to student. But in the times of Mashiach all of the children of Zion will be privileged to study Torah from the original source, Hashem Himself. The clarity that will result from such study will produce an indescribable degree of peace and harmony, everyone following the same perfect path of observance.
The prophet then directs his words to the nations of the world and says, “All who are thirsty go and drink, even without pay; go and acquire wine and milk.” (55:1) Chazal (Yalkut ad loc.) explain that the water stated here refers to Torah knowledge and the wine and milk refer to spiritual sustenance. The Radak develops this and says that the revelations of Hashem in the time of Mashiach will produce an indescribable thirst for knowledge. The nations of the world will be so impressed by Hashem’s miracles and revelations that they will flock to Zion to study the word of Hashem. This will produce the ultimate fulfillment of the prophetic words, “For from Zion will go forth Torah.” Once again Zion will be the center of Torah for the world. But this time the Torah will be appreciated even by the nations of the world who will recognize it as the absolute truth. Even the nations will experience Torah as their true sourceof life and will search for it as one searches for his bread and water.
And to complete the picture, Yeshaya foretells, “Behold nations that never knew you will run and become your servants because the glory of Hashem shines upon you (55:5) With this, Zion will finally be consoled. She has been promised to return to her original splendor. She has been promised to become the most desirable spot on the face of the earth. Her students will be privileged to study directly from Hashem. She’ll serve as the center of Torah for the entire world, nations of the world included. And finally she’ll even attract the nations to flock to her and display total subservience to the glory of Hashem which will permanently rest in her midst. Her lonely forsaken life is over forever and in its place she will now enjoy the glorious future of being the most desirable site on earth.