The people of Israel and the world in general are entering into a very delicate and difficult phase of human existence. The menace of world wide terror and warfare looms just over the horizon. The people of Israel are particularly menaced as enemies gather around them in hostile preparedness. Egypt slowly and surreptitiously is rearming in the Sinai. Iran is feverishly racing towards nuclear capability. The Hamas in the south and the Hezbollah in the north are gnashing their teeth in hateful anticipation. Israel’s strongest ally is opting for electoral concerns over its commitment to help in Israel’s protection. Yet life continues in its slow and even pace.
There are those who look to all these signs and do nothing because they are frozen with apprehension . There are others who want to act and there are many others who are afraid to. There is also a growing number of people who are turning inward and upward. Yet amidst them all one senses an undeniable undercurrent of anxiety. This undercurrent is nurtured by the innate insecurity of mortal man. The world is becoming more erratic and mankind is beginning to feel more insignificant and as a result anxiety creeps in. To counter this it would be helpful to look at the words of the haftara that been appointed for these days.
Since Tisha B’av we are in the midst of reading the series of Haftarot called the “shiva d’nechemta” or the “Seven Haftarot of consolation” .Rabbi David Abudraham, in his commentary on Prayer called simply “Sefer Abudraham” explains that the order of the Haftarot actually represents a three-way dialogue between G-d, the prophet and the people of Israel. The words of these prophecies spoken By Isaiah were meant to comfort and give strength to a battered people suffering from oppression and exile. They were words spoken to a people in a bitter time of spiritual turmoil and backsliding. Yet they are words that would give hope and vision throughout thousands of years of exile. They are especially empowering in these days of the “end of Exile”.
In the first of those seven Haftarot ,HaShem tells the prophet to ” Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, says your G-d. (Isaiah 40:1).
In the following Haftara the troubled nation refuses to be comforted. In fact in voices that echoes our own generation ,they cry out ” But Zion said: HaShem has forsaken me, and HaShem has forgotten me.’ (ibid 49:14).
In the next Haftara ,Hashem , understanding their pain, their wounds , and their lack of hope and speaks to their pain ” O you afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in fair colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires.( ibid 54:11)
Then HaShem makes his powerful declaration; ” I, even I, am He that redeems you” ( ibid 51:12 )
This declaration release the people into a new era of hope and we read in the following haftara ” Sing, O barren one , you that did not bear , break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, says HaShem “( ibid 54:1)
The prophet calls out in relief and joy as well in the next haftara ; ” The spirit of HaShem G-D is upon me; because HaShem has anointed me to bring good tidings unto the humble ( ibid 60:1)
And finally we read “0 I will greatly rejoice in HaShem, my soul shall be joyful in my G-d; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, ” ( ibid 61:10).
Those are powerful words and an uplifting message for a people wallowing in self doubt and anxiety. It is a message that has empowered and secured this people throughout generations of exile. As a result it is an even more important message for a time when exile begins to end.
When all is said and done the message that will make the change in every individual soul are the words spoken through His prophet so long ago. HaShem is reminding us today, as well, when facing a belligerent Iran and a non caring American President that “it is HaShem G-D who will cause victory and glory to spring forth before all the nations ( ibid 61:11)