This week’s haftorah marks the climax of the seven week series on Jewish redemption. In this final presentation Hashem announces His personal return to His people. After every dimension of redemption has fallen into place the only piece missing is Hashem’s consent to rest His Presence amongst His people. After all, Eretz Yisroel is revived, Yerushalayim is rebuilt, the exiles have returned en masse, what more could be expected! To this, the Jewish people respond, “I will be gladdened by Hashem, My soul will rejoice over My G-d.” (61,10) Chazal in Yalkut Shimoni (505) understand the Jewish people’s response to be focused on the actual return of Hashem. The Jewish people reflect upon all the predictions for the future and proclaim that their true source of happiness is but one, being with their beloved, Hashem. They are anxiously awaiting His presence and the love He once showed them.
To this, Yeshaya says, “Say to Zion behold your savior has come…” Yes, that long awaited moment will finally happen and Hashem will return. The prophet continues and describes the proportions of this return and the extent of this relationship. “No longer shall you be considered forsaken for regarding you it shall be proclaimed, ‘My desire is in you’.” (62, 4) Hashem pledges to totally identify with His people and display His true desire in them. This relationship with be so encompassing that a special identity will be conveyed upon the Jewish people, “Hashem’s desirable one”. But, a worry crosses their minds concerning the nature of their forthcoming relationship. After all, weren’t they previously associated with Hashem in similar proportions before this long impasse? If so, they reason that although Hashem will truly return to them it will only feel like a remarriage. Their long awaited association will have a nostalgic air to it and won’t bring them the true happiness they seek.
Yeshaya addresses this and reveals to them the breathtaking proportions of their new relationship. He says, “Hashem will rejoice over you like a groom over His bride.” (62, 5) Radak explains that Hashem’s return to His people will possess all the freshness and novelty of a groom with his bride. Such relationships represent the epitome of happiness and appreciation as the two begin forging their eternal bond with love and respect. Accordingly Hashem’s newly founded relationship with His people will possess similar qualities. It will be so complete and perfect that it won’t leave room for reflections of their past. The happiness and fulfillment that will be experienced will be so encompassing that it will virtually feel like a fresh start, one never seen before. Radak adds yet one more unbelievable point and explains that this sense of newness will continue forever. Instead of becoming stale and stagnant their relationship with Hashem will always be one of growth and development constantly reaching greater heights. Each newly gained level of closeness will be so precious and dear that it will feel like a completely new relationship replete with all its sensation and appreciation.
But the most impressive factor of all is that the above description will not merely reflect our feelings towards Hashem but will, in truth, even encompass Hashem’s feelings towards us. The words of the prophet indicate that Hashem Himself will forever rejoice over us with the sensation of a groom over His newly acquired bride. From this we discover that Hashem’s feelings towards His people are literally boundless. Even after all our straying, Hashem still desires to unite with us in the proportions described above. He seeks to erase the past and establish a perfectly new relationship, so perfect and fresh that it will continuously produce the heightened emotions of a bride and groom for eternity.
These emotions are, in truth the hidden message behind the tefillin which we don each day. As we wrap the tefillin strap around our finger we recite special passages expressing our betrothal to Hashem. This experience represents our placing the wedding ring of Hashem on our finger, portraying our perfect relationship with Him. But, Chazal (see Brochos 6a) inform us that Hashem also wears tefillin. In proof of this they cite a passage in this week’s haftorah which states, “Hashem swears by His right and by the strength of His arm.” (62, 8) Chazal explain that the words, “the strength of His arm” refer to the tefillin worn on the left arm. Maharsha expounds upon this concept and explains that Hashem actually binds Himself to the Jewish people. Hashem’s tefillin, like ours, represent devotion and commitment, His commitment to His beloved people. Hashem cherishes His relationship with us and as His expression of commitment to us, also wears a betrothal band. ultimately, we will display our boundless love for Hashem which will reveal His boundless love for us and together we will enjoy an absolutely perfect relationship for eternity.
With these thoughts we conclude the year, expressing our true aspiration of being with Hashem. It is this very thought which closes this week’s parsha, ending with our command to love Hashem. The Torah states, “To love Hashem your G-d to follow His voice and cleave to Him for He is your life and the length of your days.” (Devorim 30:20) S’forno explains that we are told here to devote our every action to Hashem which will ultimately yield a perfect relationship with Him for eternity. Our total devotion to Hashem becomes one full expression of our love for Him which will ultimately reveal a reciprocal relationship, His perfect love for us.
As we stand at the doorstep of Rosh Hashana let us focus our thoughts on our part in this relationship. Let us realize that in response to our display of devotion, Hashem will shower us with the indescribable era of Mashiach, replete with all the feelings of perfect love flowing between ourselves and Hashem at all times.