This week’s haftorah is devoted to the Jewish nation’s future unification. it opens with Hashem instructing the Prophet Yechezkel to take two pieces of wood and inscribe them with names of the Jewish kingdoms, Yehuda and Yosef. Hashem then said, “Bring them near one another to appear as one and they shall unite in your hands.” Radak interprets this to mean that Yechezkel should hold the pieces alongside each other and they will miraculously unite into one solid piece of wood. He explains that this refers to the future miraculous unification of the Jewish kingdom. The individual pieces of wood represent the individual kingdoms of Israel. Although Hashem unconditionally granted Dovid Hamelech’s dynasty the kingdom of Israel this did not preclude fragmentation. In fact, soon after Shlomo Hamelech’s passing the kingdom suffered a severe split. Yeravam ben Nvat, a descendent of the tribe of Yosef led a powerful rebellion against the Judean dynasty and gained control over most of the Jewish nation. The split was so intense that the seceding camp of Yosef totally severed ties with its brothers never to return to them. Yechezkel prophesied that these kingdoms will eventually reunite and form one inseparable unit. The unification will be so perfect that it will leave no trace of any previous dissension. The entire nation’s sense of kinship will be so pronounced that it will be likened to one solid piece of wood, void of all factions and fragmentation.
Yechezkel continues and states in Hashem’s name, “And I will purify them and they shall be a nation to Me and I will be G-d to them…My Divine Presence will rest upon them … forever.” (37:23,28) These verses predict the final phase of unity- Hashem’s unification with His people. In the Messianic era all aspects of unity will be achieved. The entire Jewish nation will become one inseparable entity and Hashem will reunite with His people. This unification will resemble that of the Jewish people, an everlasting and inseparable one.
It is important to note the order of this unity. The first phase will be our nation’s unification and after this is achieved Hashem will return to His people. Sefer Charedim sensitizes us to the order of this development. He reflects upon Hashem’s distinct quality of oneness and explains that it can only be appreciated and revealed through His people’s harmonious interaction. Hashem’s favor and kindness emanates from His perfect oneness and reveals this quality in full. When the Jewish people function as a harmonious body they deserve Hashem’s favor and kindness. They project and reflect Hashem’s goodness and express His oneness and bring true glory to His name . However, if the Jewish people are fragmented and divided they display- Heaven forbid- division in Hashem’s interactive system. Their divisive behavior gives the impression that Hashem’s influence is disjointed and fragmented and not achieving its ultimate purpose. At that point Hashem removes His presence from His people and disassociates Himself from their inappropriate ways. The Jewish people’s lack of success and accomplishment is then attributed to Hashem’s unwillingness to remain involved in their lives.
We now understand that the Jewish people’s unity is a prerequisite to Hashem’s return to His people. Sefer Charedim explains with this the introductory words of the Shabbos afternoon Amida service. We state therein, “You are one, Your identity is one and who can is likened to Your people Israel one nation in the land.” He interprets these words to refer to the glorious Messianic era. During that period Hashem’s oneness will be recognized through His harmonious interactive system reflected in the oneness of His people. Their perfect unity will provide the perfect setting for Hashem’s revelation to the world. During that time Hashem’s master plan will be expressed through the perfect interaction of His people. Every detail of Hashem’s kindness will serve its intended purpose and reveal His absolute oneness and control over every aspect of this world. Undoubtedly, this will require the Jewish people’s total cooperation and perfect harmonious interaction with one another. Indeed, it can be said that when Hashem’s people unite as an inseparable entity His identity and perfect quality of oneness will be recognized throughout the world. (adapted from Sefer Charedim chap. 7)
In truth, the foundation for this unity was laid in this week’s sedra. Yosef developed an ingenious scheme to silence all his brothers’ suspicions and convince them of their grave misjudgement of his actions. He successfully removed their deep seeded jealousy and hatred and brought about a sincere unification to the household of Yaakov. Yosef and Yehuda, the two powers to be, embraced one another and displayed a true sense of kinship. Unfortunately, irrevocable damage already occurred that would ultimately yield a severe split in the Jewish kingdom. Yosef’s descendant, Yeravam would eventually severe relations with Yehuda’s descendant Rechavam and establish his own leadership. (see Gur Aryeh to Breishis 48:7) However, groundwork was already established to reunite these kingdoms and return the Jewish nation to its original perfect unity.
This week’s sedra records the immediate result of the unity of the household of Yaakov. After Yaakov Avinu discovered Yosef’s existence and salvation the Torah states, “And their father, Yaakov’s spirit was restored to life.” (Breishis 45:27) Rashi quotes the Sages who explain these words to refer to the return of Hashem’s Divine Spirit to Yaakov. (ad loc) Yosef’s absence from Yaakov’s household indirectly prevented Hashem’s Divine Spirit from resting upon Yaakov. Now, after twenty-two dark years Yaakov Avinu’s household was reunited and Hashem returned His Divine Presence to Yaakov. This development is indicative of the Jewish people’s future experience. The ten lost tribes representing the kingdom of Yoseif will be divided from the Judean kingdom for over two thousand years. This will result in Hashem’s removing His Divine Presence from amidst His people and throughout their long dark exile they will have no direct contact with Him. However, the time will eventually arrive for the Jewish people to reunite and become one inseparable entity. This miraculous unity will immediately lead to a second unity, that of Hashem and His people. In response to their total unification Hashem will return His Divine Presence and rest amongst His people us and “The spirit of Israel will be restored to life”.
This lesson is apropos for our times where so much potential diversity exists. We pray to Hashem that we merit total unification thereby yielding Hashem’s return to us resting His Divine Presence amongst us.
Text Copyright © 2001 Rabbi Dovid Siegel and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Toras Chaim of Kiryat Sefer, Israel.