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By Rabbi Dovid Siegel | Series: | Level:

Hosheia 2:1

This week’s haftorah displays the indescribable love of Hashem for His people. The prophet Hosheia opens with Hashem’s warm words of blessing to the Jews and states, “The number of the Jewish people will be likened to the sand of the sea which can not be measured or counted.” But then the blessing shifts and Hashem says, “Instead of being denied the status of being My nation they will assume the newly gained status of ‘sons of Hashem.'” These words indicate a change amongst the Jewish people and suggest that they will undergo a major transformation.

In truth, when reading the preceding passages we discover that the Jewish nation had actually forfeited their prominent status of being regarded Hashem’s people. One passage earlier Hosheia said in the name of Hashem, “Convey upon them the title, ‘a nation not unto me,’ and tell them, ‘for you are not My nation and I will not be to you a G-d.” (1:9) But now, only one passage later, we discover a complete reversal and in place of rejection Hashem blesses the Jewish people in unbelievable proportions. In fact, Hashem even adds to their status and replaces their previous title of “the nation of Hashem” with the 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 parable. A king became enraged with his wife over her inexcusable behavior and immediately summoned a scribe with the intent of instructing him to prepare a divorce document. However, 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 mercurial change of heart. He finally resolved his problem and when the scribe arrived, the king instructed him to revise the marriage document by doubling his previous financial commitment. The hidden lesson of Chazal’s parable can be understood in the following manner. As we study the scene we sense the king’s deep love and affection for his wife. Although he became angered to the point of total rejection, this anger was neither deep-rooted or enduring. Within moments the king was therefore appeased and his true affection found its fullest expression. In order to erase this disturbing consideration of rejection, the king opted to double his marriage commitment thereby strengthening his relationship. The thought of having even considered rejection was too disturbing to the king and he sought to rectify this 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 their rejection papers. In truth, the mere notion of rejection was sufficient to sensitize the Jewish people to the severity of their wrongdoings. After this was achieved, Hashem’s expression of love for His people found its fullest expression. Hashem immediately retracted His suggestion of rejection and restored the Jewish nation to their prominent status of “His people.” However, Hashem wouldn’t stop at this and allow this intended rejection to remain a factor in the chronicles of Jewish history. Hashem therefore compensated for this suggested rejection and increased His display of affection to the Jewish people. From now on, the Jewish people would enjoy an intensified relationship and would be identified as Hashem’s children, not merely His loyal subjects. We learn from this the indescribable love Hashem possesses for His people and 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 which speaks about the special privilege 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 relationship with 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 against the Jewish people and Moshe Rabbeinu was immediately summoned to deliver the rejection papers. Moshe Rabbeinu pleaded on behalf of the Jewish people and, through breaking the tablets, sensitized the Jews to the severity of their wrongdoings. Hashem immediately restored the Jews to their prominent status but didn’t stop there. Hashem sought to compensate for this intended rejection and, in addition to resting His Divine Presence amongst them, he decided to display a heightened level of affection. He therefore permitted the Jewish people to camp around His holy Ark and encircle His Divine Presence. This newly gained relationship created amongst the Jewish people an indescribable sensation of embracing Hashem. Indeed Shlomo Hamelech refers to this encampment as an unbelievable expression 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) Once again we learn that Hashem’s love for His people cannot be effected and even after considering rejection Hashem’s display of affection always continues and is even heightened to indescribable proportions.

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