This week’s haftorah reveals to us another impressive dimension of our final redemption. In the name of Hashem, the prophet Yeshaya informed the Jewish people, “I Myself am your consoler. Why do you, so dignified, fear a mortal being? You have forgotten Hashem your creator who spreads the heavens and establishes the land.” (51:12) The Jewish people were told that Hashem will personally bring them comfort and console. Yeshaya continues and says, “And I am your Hashem….who protects you in exile to firmly establish you and say to the inhabitants of Zion, ‘You are My people.'” These statements indicate that there is some hesitation on the part of the Jewish nation regarding their return to Zion. There seems to be an insecurity in the minds of the Jewish people concerning the permanence of their return. The Jewish people have already gone through the process of exile and return but their return was short-lived. They therefore turned to Hashem and requested a guarantee that, this time, their return would be a permanent one. Hashem responded that He would personally bring them back to Zion and that there was no basis for their fears.
The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 474) explains this dialogue with the following parable. Rav Abba in the name of Reish Lakish told that this is likened to a king who became enraged with his queen. He was so disturbed over her behavior that he totally rejected her and sent her away from his palace. After a period of time he reconsidered and desired to reunite with her. He informed her of his intentions and she responded to him that she would consent to return only if he doubled the amount of her kesubah (marriage financial agreement). In this same manner we can appreciate the Jewish people’s predicament. Hashem’s initial relationship was established through the ten commandments wherein Hashem said, “‘I’ am your Hashem.” This relationship proved, from the Jewish people’s side, to be an imperfect one and after they severely strayed from the proper path Hashem rejected them and exiled them from Zion. Now that Hashem requested their return He found it appropriate to double His relationship and announced, “‘I Myself’ will console you.” In response to this, the Jewish people readily accept Hashem’s offer and will finally consent to return to Zion.
The indescribable dimensions of Hashem’s offer are presented to us at the closing of the haftorah. Yeshaya says, “How beautiful is the sight on the mountain of the announcer projecting peace; announcing goodness; announcing salvation and saying to Zion, “Your Hashem has come to reign …. the sound of your onlookers raising their voice in unison and singing, for with perfect vision they will behold Hashem’s return to Zion.” The Yalkut Shimoni (428) explains these passages and tells us that in our days it is virtually impossible to “view” Hashem’s presence with perfect vision. Even when one merits the unique experience of “viewing” Hashem’s presence it is with heavy ramifications and one is severely weakened by it. The Baal Haturim (Bamidbar 14:14) cites this understanding in reference to the Jewish nation’s experience at Mount Sinai. Although they did merit to directly “view” Hashem’s presence when He said,
“I am your Hashem’ their experience was overwhelming and required that they be miraculously revived after passing out. (see Shabbos 88b) However, in the era of Mashiach the Jewish people’s spiritual capacity will be greatly increased and they will be capable of viewing Hashem’s presence with total clarity and even merit through it eternal life. The Yalkut explains that this is what Yeshaya meant when he said, “For with perfect vision they will behold Hashem’s return to Zion.” Hashem’s involvement during His return will be such a tangible experience that the Jewish people will actually merit to “view” His presence with perfect clarity. In Yeshaya’s actual words this is described in the following manner, “They will view Hashem ‘eye to eye’. “
We now return to the parable of Raish Lakish and gain true insight into the era of Mashiach. In the past, the Jewish people experienced a very elevated relationship with Hashem and merited to directly “view” His presence when He said, “‘I am your Hashem” However this revelation was far beyond their spiritual capacity and it did not produce everlasting results. Although they “saw” Hashem with clarity they strayed from His mitzvos and followed strange ideals and false deities. They therefore responded, “What will guarantee that they will not repeat their failings again?” Hashem answered, “‘I Myself’ will redeem you.” This time the Jewish people will merit a perfect relationship with Hashem. In response to their concern Hashem promised to double their spiritual capacity thereby enabling them to truly “view” His presence without difficulty. Now that they will “see” Hashem “eye to eye” they will merit to establish a perfect relationship with Him and continue from there into the world of eternity. Oh! May we merit to see that day!