"Me'Afelah L'Or Gadol"
The Tochacha, the moral lecture, delivered by Moshe in this week's parshah, is a litany of one torment after another. Conditions are described which one might be tempted to consider exaggerations, had our century not been witness to the Holocaust.
Yet, if the Tochacha as a whole represents Afelah, thick darkness, then the Haftorah, one of the Shiva D'nechemta, the Seven Haftorahs of Comfort, taken from the sixtieth chapter of Yeshayahu, represents Or Gadol, great light. Yeshayahu, who was the Prophet who foresaw the Destruction of Yerushalayim, also had the spiritual greatness to be one of the Prophets of Redemption.
If the Torah says, in Devarim (28:29), "You will grope at noon as a blind person gropes in thick darkness," then Yeshayahu prophecies that there will come a time that Hashem will say to the Jewish People, "Rise up, shine forth, for your light has come, while darkness will cover the rest of the world, and a dense cloud will envelop the nations. (Yeshayahu 60: 1)"
Hashem warns, through Moshe, "And they (your enemy) will oppress you in all your gates, and your tall and fortified walls in which you trusted will be brought down. (Dev ., ibid.:52)". Yeshayahu raises our spirits with "And strangers will rebuild your walls and their kings will serve you... (Yesh., ibid:10)"
At that time, you "...said in the morning, 'When will night come?' And in the evening you said 'Where is the morning' because of the fear in your heart..(Dev ., 67)" In the future, you will feel the shock of joy which Yaakov felt when he heard that Yoseph was still alive, and then "...you will see and become weak, and your heart, awestruck with 'fear,' will enlarge with joy, For the treasures of the Sea will be returned, And the wealth of the nations will come to you. (Yesh., 5)
There will be a time when "Sons and Daughters will be born to you, But they will not remain yours, For they will go into captivity (Dev .:41)" But take heart! For there will be another time, in the distant future, from the perspective of Yeshayahu, but near at hand, hopefully, from our perspective, that we will be told, "Lift up your eyes and behold, Everyone is gathered, and coming to you, Your sons are returning from afar, And your daughters shall be nursed at your side. (Yesh : 4)"
In your time of destruction, you will be scattered "...among the nations, From one end of the Earth to the other...(Dev .:64); in the time of your redemption, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, will say, "Who are these that fly as a cloud, And as the doves to their windows? (Yesh .: 8)"
What did the Jewish People do to deserve such fearsome punishment? The Torah tells us, "because you didn't serve the L-rd your G-d with joy and with gladness of heart, because you had too much of everything. (Dev.:47)"
On the eighteenth of Elul, the Jewish People celebrated the 300th birthday of the Baal Shem Tov , the founder of Chassidus, the movement which had as its mission to inject a stream of joy into the Jewish soul. As we approach the Yamim Noraim, the Awesome Days of Judgment and Atonement, let us hope for a good verdict and for atonement on those great days, and anticipate a Sukkot which will truly be for us a "time of our joy," where joy is, by definition, closeness to G-d.
There is a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud concerning the question of whether the Ten Lost Tribes will ever return. The dispute revolves around the interpretation of the same verse, which compares the Tribes to the "Day." Rabbi Akiva, generally an optimist, here is pessimistic regarding their fate, for he says that just as when a day passes, it never returns, so did the Tribes "have their "day," so to speak, and like the day, will never return. Rabbi Eliezer is more optimistic in this instance, for he says that just as the day darkens and brightens, so will it be with the Ten Lost Tribes. Though they have been in the darkness of Exile since the time of the destruction of the First Temple, some 2,725 years ago, it is hoped that the light of redemption will finally shine on them (this process may already have begun, if the Ethiopean Jews, who've recently immigrated to the State of Israel, are their vanguard).
Let us anticipate that as we hopefully emerge from an Exile, a period of Afelah marked at its end, the Holocaust, and at its beginning, the Destruction of the Temple, by tremendous catastrophes, that the Jewish People as a whole will experience the light of complete redemption, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT"L, was wont to say, "b'karov mamash," "as soon as possible." And that we will stand as one People, divided only along the classic lines of the Twelve Tribes, "Ani Hashem, b'ita achishena," "I am the L-rd; when its time is ripe, I will bring it speedily! (Yeshayahu, 60:22)"
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU[http://220.127.116.11/footer.html]