This week’s haftorah brings us to the concluding dimensions of Hashem’s encompassing efforts to comfort the Jewish people. The prophet Yeshaya shares with us a glimpse of the glorious era of Mashiach and reveals Hashem’s unbelievable sensitivity and concern for His chosen nation. Yeshaya begins, “Rise and project your light because the radiance of Hashem shines upon you.” (60:1) The prophet’s message is that in the days of Mashiach the Jewish people will serve as a reflection of Hashem’s light unto the nations of the world. Yeshaya continues, “Lift your eyes and see them coming; your sons coming from afar and your daughters accompanied by the kings of the world.” (60:3-5) The cloud of darkness and confusion which continuously plagues society will finally be lifted and the entire world will flow into Jerusalem in streams to discover the truths of Hashem and His Torah. Instead of the all too familiar scene of the Jewish people flowing out of their homeland into exile, a new flow will occur. Not only will our oppressors permit us to return to Israel, they will even personally escort us back to our homeland. And to complete this picture, nations will display sincere interest in the Jewish people’s traditions and will flock to our homeland to discover our Jewish values and systems.The influx will be so overwhelming that we will wonder in amazement if we are merely imagining these sights, or if, in truth, history has made a full turnabout.
The prophet continues, “All the choice sheep of Kedar will gather to you…. to be offered on My altar and accepted with desire.” (60: 7) The nations of the world will appreciate in sincerity the value of service to Hashem through sacrifice and will continuously offer Him an abundance of sacrifices. In place of their cruel campaign for thousands of years to destroy and never allow the reconstruction of the Bais Hamikdash they will finally comprehend spiritual values and utilize the Bais Hamikdash 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 harshly toward the Jewish people.
Hashem explains the reason for this unexpected reversal and says, “Because in My time of anger I smote you and in My time of desire for you, I will show you My compassion.” (60:10) The Metzudos Dovid explains this passage in the following manner. Needless to say, the experiences of the Jewish people are unparalleled by any other nation. Their extent of shame, persecution and tragedy covers the pages of world history in 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 always in His direct focus. Hashem responds to our every turn and reprimands us accordingly with the constant severe beatings we suffer. But all of this is an outgrowth of His unconditional love for us and His determination to keep us on the right path. And when the moment arrives for Hashem to display His kindness to His people it will be done in these very same proportions. Being the direct subject of Hashem’s concern and compassion Hashem will shower His love upon His people in a most encompassing way. Hashem pledges to reverse the unpleasant experiences of the Jewish people’s past and replace them with a glorious future. He therefore commits Himself to undoing the darkness of our past with the indescribable brightness of our future.
The Jewish nation finds it quite difficult to forget the pain and shame of their exile and to this Hashem responds in a most magnificent way. Hashem informs them that their return from exile will be through none other than those very same nations who were responsible for the exile. They will personally escort the Jews back to their homeland with dignity and respect and will actually crave to be amongst those who are privileged to reside 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) And as we cited earlier, these very same nations and sovereigns who 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 and 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 ten-fold and in addition these same collectors will generously contribute considerable financial resources to the Jewish people. (see Radak, Malbim, ad loc.)
The sum total of Hashem’s restoration plan for the Jewish people is best described in the following words of the prophet. “In place of your previous status, forsaken and despised I shall establish you the majesty of the world, the joy for all generations.” (60:15) Oh, if we could only see this now!