This week’s haftorah teaches us never to despair. The prophet Yeshaya opens with words of rebuke to the Jewish people for their disgraceful attitude regarding Hashem’s direct involvement in their lives. Yeshaya asks, “Why does Yaakov say that my path is concealed from Hashem and my judgment alludes Him?”
This desperate claim of the Jewish people was based on the firm control the nations exercise over the Jewish people during their years of exile . The Jews exclaim in bewilderment, “If Hashem really knows and cares how could He possibly permit the world to remain in its present state of affairs!? Where is all the reward that the Jewish people so rightfully deserve? Why are there no repercussions for the nations who have so harshly treated Hashem’s beloved nation?” These questions reflected the deep-seeded feelings of the Jewish people in those times that Hashem remained aloof and was not even involved in His world and its developments.
This same claim is forever expressed by the mighty powers of the world who perceive themselves to be in total control. In this week’s haftorah, Hashem responds to these powers and engages them in a heavy dialogue. He calls upon them to defend their position that Hashem is in fact, incapable of protecting His people from their harsh decrees and firm control. Hashem says, “Be silent distant nations and mighty powers, recharge yourself with strength. Draw near and speak, come together for judgment. Who inspired the dweller of the east to proclaim My righteousness with his every step? Who delivered nations into this dweller’s hands and gave him the control over the kings? Who empowered (the dweller’s) sword to render the nations into dust, his bow to crush them like straw? Who safeguarded this man when chasing his enemies over unfamiliar paths? It is I, Hashem, who declares the earliest generations from their inception and it is I who will remain with the final ones.” (41: 2-4)
This moving dialogue reveals the hidden secret of the patriarch Avrohom’s development. Our Sages (see Bereishis Rabba 43:3) explain that “the dweller of the east” spoken about refers to none other than Avrohom Avinu. The prophet Yeshaya tells us that, in truth, it was Hashem who was responsible for the total upheaval and awakening of an entire generation. Hashem was the one who inspired this lone soul to reject the universal practice of paganism which had spread to nearly every human being on the face of the earth. Hashem kindled that fire within the soul of Avrohom Avinu to alert the entire world of their perverted approaches and foolish beliefs. Hashem protected Avrohom Avinu against every attempt to thwart this sacred undertaking to preach the unpopular truth to the masses. And finally, it was Hashem who assisted Avrohom Avinu in his miraculous war against the four kings which ultimately resulted in the universal recognition of Hashem’s supremacy. (See Beraishis Rabba 42:3; Rashi Lech Lecha 14:17)
This response gives us a significant perspective regarding Hashem’s involvement in the world and its affairs. The unfortunate setting of Avrohom Avinu’s time was one of total despair relative to any possible recognition of Hashem. The entire world had no clue of the true Hashem and had sunk into aggressive practices of idolatry. But, as we know, Hashem maintains His control and is intimately involved in the development of His world. He secured from the outset, that one of the greatest of all minds would be born into that dark generation of religious misbeliefs. Hashem inspired this incredible mind of Avrohom Avinu to oppose the entire world and launch a campaign, single-handed, to fill the world with the understanding and belief in the one, true Hashem. From this unbelievable accomplishment we see that Hashem is completely involved in His world and secured its salvation from the start. In order to accomplish this, Hashem, therefore planted the most brilliant of minds, that of Avrohom Avinu in the generation where it was most desperately needed.
This remarkable development of Avrohom Avinu serves as perfect testimony to Hashem’s involvement in the world. The mere fact that one lone soul could single-handedly effect an entire world and inspire the majority of civilization to abandon their previous beliefs speaks for itself. The shocking phenomena that this one person wasn’t persecuted or executed for his beliefs and was even miraculously victorious when waging war, single-handed, against the mightiest powers of the world tells the complete story. It is Hashem who controls the world and directs its through its necessary developments at all times. And, it is therefore only with the permission of Hashem that the powers of the world maintain their tight control, subject to Hashem’s interference at all times. Yeshaya responds to the Jewish people and states, emphatically, that Hashem knows and cares about them and is intimately involved in their experiences. If Hashem appears to be removed it is only the result of their wrongdoings but, in truth, Hashem is actually quietly involved in every step of their lives. In fact, Hashem is engaged at all times in securing the ultimate perfection of the world. Working under cover, Hashem is perpetually involved in directing the world’s events in preparation for the final redemption. ( see Daas Tevunos)
This timely insight is so apropos for our times. The rapid moral decline in our times along with the mass rejection of observant Judaism are certainly significant factors for despair. The descending direction in which the world is headed projects the world’s ultimate detachment from Hashem through secularism and immorality. However, Hashem declares that He never loses sight of His world and His people. He secured the appearance of Avrohom Avinu, inspired him to lead his nearly insurmountable campaign and protected him during every step of his most difficult battles. In this same vein Hashem has secured the salvation of His final generation through the eventual arrival of Mashiach. Hashem will plant an individual from the illustrious dynasty of Dovid Hamelech whose intelligence will even surpass that of Shlomo Hamelech and whose level of prophecy will near that of Moshe Rabbeinu. This person will totally devote himself to Torah and Mitzvos, educate and inspire all the Jewish people to follow in the Torah’s ways and fight the wars of Hashem. (see Rambam Laws of Kings Ch. 11 Law 4, Tshuva Ch. 9 Law 2) Hashem never forsakes His world or His people and has therefore engineered from the beginning of time the security of His name. The successful campaign of Mashiach, likened to that of Avrohom Avinu, will eventually educate the entire world and bring about their true recognition of Hashem in its fullest capacity. May we merit to witness this soon in our days.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Dovid Siegel and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Toras Chesed of Skokie.