B’Ohel Haneviyim: Parshas Shoftim 5773

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This week’s Haftorah is read from Yishayohu and is the fourth of the שבע דנחמתא. The Haftorah starts with Hashem telling us that He is our Comforter. Hashem then continues by urging us over and over throughout the Haftorah to stand up and regain our strength. Hashem tells us to wake up from the sleep of Exile into the wakefulness of Geula. There is a very clear theme in the Haftorah: that the Geula is a reality to which we will one day awaken. In other words, the Geula isn’t something that we will necessarily be expecting. It is rather something that will happen to us suddenly.

The Haftorah mentions two other very important points. The first is that we are living in a constant state of fear from our oppressors. In reality, says the Navi, we do not have any such oppressors. The Navi tells us that we are living in the Geula without realizing it. The second point is that the children of Yerushalayim aren’t taking care of it. The first of these two points is very relevant to our needing to be awakened but the second isn’t. If the Geula is here and we are just oblivious to it we must be awakened. However, the statement that no one is caring for Yerushalayim doesn’t have anything to do with our being oblivious. Right after the Navi tells us that Yerushalayim will be leaderless, he once again urges us to wake up to the Geula.

If until the time of the Geula Yerushalayim is to be without any caretakers or leaders, then once Yerushalayim has caretakers the Geula must have already arrived. Even once leadership does develop, the Navi feels the need to urge us to awaken to the Geula because, it would seem, we would still be in some sort of state of stupor, or unconsciousness. We still will not realize – without the effort the Navi urges on us – that we can take care of Yerushalayim, and that the Geula has already come.

Klal-Yisroel is a battered nation that has survived every attempt to destroy it. By now we should be fearless; we should know that there cannot ever be a threat to our existence – but for some reason most Jews are still afraid. What allowed us as Jews to overcome every single threat that loomed over us? World history is replete with the fall of empires that have succeeded one another. When these collapse, they usually dissolve, are absorbed into, the conquering state, thereby disappearing altogether. Am-Yisroel is different. Am-Yisroel has something that distinguishes it from all other nations: the Torah.

Am-Yisroel was nearly wiped out many times but those who survived continued on, retaining their identity because they clung firmly to the Torah. Jews who unfortunately have little or no connection to the Torah will be afraid of annihilation because for them we are just another entity.

The presence of Torah Jews in Eretz-Yisroel is potential leadership for Yerushalayim. While we await the Geula eagerly every Torah Jew that comes to Eretz-Yisroel contributes to setting the stage for the Geula.

By strengthening Torah learning and Torah observance in Eretz-Yisroel we are taking huge steps towards the Geula.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski