This week’s Haftorah is extremely inspiring. It is a Nevuah from Yishayohu and it starts off amidst a dialogue between Tzion and Hashem. Tzion tells Hashem that He has forgotten her (i.e. us) and Hashem answers that He hasn’t. Hashem explains that any abandonment of His was temporary and a thing of the past. Hashem explains that He could never abandon us; that it would be impossible for Him to do so.
Hashem follows this initial statement by saying that He is ushering us all back to Tzion. He instructs us to look around and says that we will then see that we are all coming back. Hashem goes on and explains our Galus and all that it entailed as something of the past. The Navi, continuing to convey Hashem’s word, further adds that the Nations of the World will bring us all back with great honor. The Navi describes how princes will ‘carry’ us back with glory.
When Rachel Imeinu cried out to Hashem on our behalf as we were on our way into Galus, Hashem responded by promising her that He would bring us back to Eretz-Yisroel. The Chosom-Sofer asks an obvious question: the Geula Asida (Final Redemption) is already promised. The Neviyim are full of such promises to Am-Yisroel. Since our eventual return is already guaranteed, what was it that Hashem promised to Rachel Imeinu? The Chosom Sofer answers: we are promised our eventual return, but Hashem promised Rachel Imeinu that we will be allowed to return home even before Hashem comes to redeem us.
While the Chosom Sofer answered his own question, we are left with another question: in our Haftorah Hashem promises us a glorious return. Hashem promises that in the Final Redemption we will return with glory. Why would anyone want to come back beforehand? There is really an obvious answer to this question. We know that many Gedolim, through many generations, yearned to come to Eretz-Yisroel. They yearned just as Moshe Rabeinu did to be in Eretz-Yisroel. Moshe Rabeinu, however, wasn’t Zoche to enter into and be in Eretz-Yisroel. Instead, Hashem only allowed him to look into Eretz-Yisroel. This would seem to imply that there is something even to seeing Eretz-Yisroel. What this all means is that someone who understands the specialness of Eretz-Yisroel will yearn to be in Eretz-Yisroel even if right now that someone is not able to arrive there in a glorious fashion. There is, however, yet another answer.
When Klal-Yisroel were at what seemed a dead end situation at the Yam-Suf, the entire nation ended up crossing the Yam in the most splendid way. While everyone crossed the Yam there was only one person who got wet from crossing it and that was Nachshon. Nachshon heard Hashem’s instructions to go into the Yam-Suf and he did – regardless of what appeared at the moment as an insurmountable obstacle. He was the one who, through his act of entering the Sea, somehow allowed for the miracle of the splitting of the sea to occur.
The Navi is telling us unequivocally that all of Am-Yisroel will be brought back to Eretz-Yisroel. That Return, however, will be with Am-Yisroel as a passive entity – without its having to do anything. Only those who choose to go to Eretz-Yisroel and to gather there will have the distinction of getting back home actively.
A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski