of Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech
Will Rejoice Exceedingly in HaShem,
The Haftarah of Parshot Nitzavim-Vayelech is the seventh of the "Haftarot of
Consolation," in the series of seven such Haftarot. Both the Ashkenazic and
Sefardic communities take this Haftarah from the Book of
Yeshayahu, beginning with
"Perek"/Chapter 61, "Passuk"/Verse 10, through (and including)
"Perek" 63, "Passuk" 63, "Passuk" 9.
The Avudraham makes the leading verses of the Seven Haftarot of Consolation into a
conversation between HaShem, the People of Israel and
the Prophets, as cited by Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, ZT"L.
"On the first
Shabbat, the Holy One says through the Prophets, 'Be
comforted, Be comforted, My People.' But the People refuse to accept the words of the Prophets. So
that we hear on the second Shabbat, 'And Zion answered, "HaShem has left me, and
the L-rd has forgotten me!" ' On the third Shabbat, the Prophets report to HaShem 'The
impoverished, the storm-tossed one has not been comforted' - 'She refuses to accept
comfort from us; she wants to hear it from You alone!' "
"Therefore, on the fourth Shabbat, the Holy One, Blessed be He, assures
the People, 'It is I, even I Who is comforting you.' And on the fifth Shabbat,
He continues to raise their spirits, 'Sing out, you who were barren, who had
not yet given birth.' And even on the sixth, 'Arise, give forth light, for your
light has come.'
"Then and only then, on the seventh Shabbat does the People of Israel
believe that her time of suffering is over, 'I will rejoice exceedingly in
HaShem, my soul will delight in my G-d
Translation, Commentary-and-Comments on the Haftarah
Haftarah begins on the highest possible note: Yeshayahu 61:10
"I will rejoice exceedingly I HaShem,
My soul shall be joyful in my G-d;
For He has clothed me with the garments of Salvation,
He has robed me with the robe of righteousness;
As a bridegroom, ministering in majesty,
And as a bride, beautiful in her raiment."
RADAK: Two interpretations suggested by the Radak: the first, it is the City of Yerushalayim
speaking, upon her return to glory; the second, it is the People of Israel speaking, upon their return from the
"For as the earth brings forth her growth,
And as a garden brings its plantings to maturity,
So the L-rd G-d will cause victory and glory
To spring forth before all the nations."
RADAK: Explains the analogy between the Salvation of the Jewish People to the
plantings in a garden in three ways:
1. A seed in general is "destroyed" apparently, but then reconstitutes itself
to become a plant even better than the original; so will Israel, after having
been nearly destroyed in the Exile, return to vibrancy.
2. As a seed produces many more plants than the original plant, so will Israel become
far greater numerically, and greatly exceed the original in their degree of honor and
3. As a plant takes new life season after season, so will Israel experience
new levels of growth time after time in their Era of Redemption.
The RADAK doesn't mention this, but the Talmud brings a "proof" of the "Revival of the
Dead," "Kal V'Chomer MiChitah," by reasoning that if it happens naturally to a kernel of
wheat, it will certainly happen for a human being.
"For the sake of Zion I will not hold My peace,
And for the sake of Jerusalem I will not Be silent,
Until her Righteous Triumph emerge as a light,
And her Salvation burn like a torch."
"I will not Be silent" - Both RASHI
and the Metzudat David explain the "state of mind" of HaShem before the Redemption. RASHI explains HaShem's
statement as meaning that He will not find "Shalom," Peace, "until its Righteous Triumph emerge as a light."
One of the Names of HaShem is "Shalom;" perhaps this then means that He will Be
unable to find peace within Himself.
The Metzudat David explains HaShem's complaint as meaning that He cannot find
"Menuchah," Rest, until her "Righteousness emerge like a light and her Salvation like
a torch." "Menuchah" is the state of Shabbat; when all creative activity has ceased;
perhaps the Universe will not have reached its Shabbat until the Salvation of Israel
"And the nations shall see your triumph,
And all Kings your glory,
And you will be called by a new name,
Which the Mouth of the L-rd shall pronounce."
"A new name" - RADAK relates this to the name that appears in
"Passuk" 62:4; namely, "Cheftzi-Bah," "My Desire is for her."
"You shall be a crown of beauty in the Hand of HaShem,
And a royal diadem in the palm of your G-d."
"In the Hand of HaShem" - Metzudat David explains that you will be guarded and
protected as if in the "Hand" of G-d.
"You will no longer be called "Forsaken,"
Neither shall your Land be called "Desolate"
But you will be called "My Desire is for her,"
And your Land will be called "Espoused;"
For HaShem Desires you,
And your Land will be espoused."
"My Desire is for her" - Metzudat David elaborates, "And I will never leave her again."
"For as a young man espouses a virgin,
So shall your sons espouse you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
So shall your G-d rejoice over you."
"A young man espouses a virgin" - In this "natural" combination, there will never be a
separation. (Metzudat David)
"As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride" - RADAK explains that just as a
bridegroom rejoices over his bride in the early days of their marriage, so will HaShem rejoice over
"I have set watchmen upon your walls,
They shall take no rest,
Day or Night;
'You who are the L-rd's watchmen,
Be never silent."
RASHI cites the Talmud, where this "Passuk" is interpreted as referring to Angels Who
"Remind, as it were, HaShem that He is obligated to rebuild the City of Jerusalem,
saying to Him, 'You will rise up, have mercy on Zion; For the time has come to show her
grace, its season has arrived.' "
RADAK offers more than the following three explanations:
1. The reference is to the Angels, Who pray for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim.
2. The reference is to Israel in its Exile, who constantly pray for the rebuilding of
Yerushalayim. HaShem says here that He has taken note of their prayers.
3. The reference is to the words of the Prophet to the People, that demonstrate the
great promises of HaShem; the Prophets say to the People, "Do not give up hope."
"And give Him no rest,
Till He establish,
And till He make Yerushalayim
A praise in the Earth."
"The L-rd has Sworn by His Right Hand,
And by the Arm of His Strength,
'Surely I will no more give your corn
To be food for your enemies;
And strangers shall not drink your wine,
For which you have labored.' "
"The L-rd has Sworn" - RADAK explains that the power and the ability to cause any
effect is within the scope of His Omnipotence.
"But they who gathered it shall eat it,
And they will praise the L-rd,
And they that have gathered it,
Shall drink it in the Courts
Of My Sanctuary"
"Go through! Go through the gates!
Clear the way of the People;
Cast up! Cast up the highway!
Gather up the stones;
Lift up an ensign for the peoples."
"Gather up the stones" - RASHI explains that the removal of obstacles from
one's path referred to can refer to the destruction of the "Yetzer hara," the
"Evil Inclination." Alternatively, it can refer to actual construction projects to
fix up the roads for the vast numbers of travelers who will be taking the roads to Zion and Jerusalem at that time of
the Redemption of Israel and the recognition by all of humanity that HaShem is the true
"Behold, the L-rd has proclaimed
To the ends of the Earth;
Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'Behold, Your Salvation has come;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His recompense before Him.' "
"His reward" - RADAK explains that the reward referred to is the reward due Israel for
all their suffering during the time of their Exile, in order to remain loyal to HaShem and
"And they shall call them the Holy People,
The Redeemed of the L-rd;
And you will be called 'Sought Out,'
A City not forsaken."
"You will be called
" - RADAK and Metzudat David explains that these names are the
opposite of what the nations called you, and what you called yourself, during the time of
the Exile. Then they called you, Jerusalem, the "Abandoned City;" now they will call
you "Sought Out" and a "City not Forsaken." The nations said about you, Israel, and you
agreed, "G-d has left them;" it will now be revealed that HaShem in fact never left you,
although He did punish you; now you are actually the "Holy People" and the "Redeemed
In the next "Perek," Yeshayahu describes the Retribution of HaShem Against the
Enemies of Israel.
"Who is this that comes from Edom,
With crimsoned garments from Bozrah?
The One Who is glorious in His raiment?
Stately in the greatness of His strength;
'I that speak in victory, Mighty to Save.' "
Metzudat David explains that HaShem will, as it were, be stained by the
blood of Israel's enemies.
"Why is your clothing red,
And Your garments like those of one
Who treads in the winevat?"
Metzudat David explains that the stain is the color of wine pressed from grapes.
"I have trodden the winepress alone,
And of the peoples there was no one with Me;
And I trod them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
And their lifeblood is dashed against My garments,
And I have stained all My raiment."
"There was no one with Me" - RADAK explains this as meaning that at the
time of their Redemption, Israel would not really possess the merit to be redeemed.
"For the Day of Vengeance
That was in My Heart,
And My Year of Redemption have arrived."
RADAK and Metzudat David explain that HaShem is saying that the idea
of vengeance was in His Heart, so to speak, for a long time, until the year in
which the Process of Redemption would be played out, finally arrived.
"And I looked, and there was none to help,
And I silently waited,
But there was none to hold them up;
Therefore My own Right Arm
Brought Salvation to Me,
And My Fury, It upheld Me."
RASHI explains that, in the absence of sufficient merit in the People of Israel, there was
still sufficient reason to redeem them. Because although I wanted My People to be
punished, the enemies of Israel have always gone too far, in their merciless and sadistic
persecution of the Jewish People.
"And I trod down the peoples in My anger,
And made them drunk with My fury,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."
"And I trod down" - RASHI explains that this refers to making these wicked
people wallow in their own blood, in parallel with the end of the verse that,
according to RASHI, also speaks of the blood of the enemies.
Another way of understanding "Va'Orid la-aretz nitzcham," is that HaShem is saying that
He will bring down to earth the heavenly representative of the wicked nations, in parallel
with the fact that in three "P'sukim," reference will be made to a Heavenly Representative that protects Israel.
Reference is now made of the great kindnesses that HaShem will do for the People of
Israel during all of their history until the arrival of the Time of their
Redemption, together with the Mashiach. These kindnesses will be of the nature that He will
not allow the normal processes of history to operate on them and eliminate them, as
they will do to all the "Great Empires" who tried to destroy them.
"I will make mention of the mercies of the L-rd,
And the praises of the L-rd,
According to all that the L-rd Has bestowed on us;
And the great goodness towards
The House of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them,
According to His compassion,
And according to the multitude of His mercies."
RASHI, RADAK and Metzudat David all explain this verse as referring to the many
kindnesses that HaShem performed for us, despite our being undeserving.
"For He said, 'Surely, they are My People,
Children that will not deal falsely;
So He was their Savior."
As the Rabbi of Senator Joseph Lieberman's shul responded to the reporter inquiring
about the religiosity of the Senator, "I will tell you that an Orthodox Jew cannot lie."
"In all their affliction, He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them, and carried them,
All the days of Eternity."
"Angel of His Presence" - RASHI explains this "Passuk" as meaning that the Jewish
People were never punished throughout history as much as they deserved, because
otherwise they would have disappeared. This is because the Angel Michael, with
HaShem's approval, intervened to protect them.
RADAK elaborates that the function of the Angel is to set up the causes and effects of
history, such that they would appear random, but would really not be (best example:
Purim, where the causes and effects are "almost
obvious" on the face of reality), to ensure the survival of the Jewish People.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU