of Parshat Shoftim
Even I, Am the One that Comforts You"
of Shoftim is the fourth of the "Haftarot of Consolation," in the
series of seven such Haftarot. Both
communities take this Haftarah from the Book of Yeshayahu, beginning
with "Perek"/Chapter 51, Verse 12, through (and including) Chapter
52, Verse 12.
conversation that Avudraham constructs from these Haftarot, the
"shiva d'nechemta," among HaShem,
His Prophets and the People of Israel, this is the one in which HaShem
responds directly to the complaint of the People of Israel, voiced in
Zion said, 'The L-rd has forsaken me,
There is in
that complaint the idea that G-d has given up on the world, and has
withdrawn to His celestial abode, declaring the experiment with the human
race a failure. HaShem
responds, "Not so fast! I'm
in this for the long haul. We
can put Our relationship back together."
The Haftarah - Translation and Commentary
even I, am the One that comforts you:
the word "Anochi" for "I," the same word that begins the
"Aseret HaDibrot," the "Ten Commandments," to remind the
Jewish People of their great past, including that transcendent moment that
they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and received the Torah.
around their complaint, HaShem argues, as RASHI
and Metzudat David explain "Daughter of righteous parents, full of the
merit of observance of the
Commandments, why did you abandon Me, your Eternal
source of strength, Who is worthy of being feared, in favor of human tyrants
who are here today and gone tomorrow?"
continues to reverse the complaint voiced by the Jewish People, now dealing
with the second half of the "Passuk"/Verse, where they said of
G-d, "You forgot us!""
that is bent down shall speedily be untied,
"You will have survived the terrors of the Exile, and those who have
perished will be brought back to life, for I am the 'Memit U-Mechaye,' the
One Who kills and restores to life.' "
am the L-rd your G-d,
I rule over
Nature; I split the sea when you left Egypt, and I can make a storm at will;
I rule above and I rule below. (RADAK)
have put My Words in your mouth,
And say unto
I gave you
the Torah (Metzudat David), because I am the Author of Morality, without
which Heaven and Earth would not exist, and you are a necessary part of My
plan for the world.
I will plant
you on your Land under the heavens, to which I have compared you, when I
instructed your father Avraham to count the stars, if he could count them.
And you will
be as if planted in your land, to which I have also compared you when I
said, "And I will make the number of your descendants like the sand of
the earth." (M.D.)
you in the shadow of My hand" - protected you during all of the Exile,
as long as you obeyed the Torah" (RADAK)
plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth" - until the
time of ingathering of the Exiles, when Nature itself will be re-created.
yourself, awaken yourself,
suffered the full measure of HaShem's anger, and your sin is atoned; now I
command you to awaken yourself. (M.D.)
is none to guide her
Babylonia, she seems exhausted, with no leaders able to rise up to help her.
two have befallen you,
"two" forms of suffering are presented as a pair, followed by a
corresponding pair, in reverse sequence.
Thus, "desolation" corresponds to "the sword" and
"destruction" to "famine." (M.D.
can I compare to you, in terms of degree of suffering, the knowledge of
which might bring you some measure of comfort?
sons have fainted,
have fainted from lack of water and food.
The dead lie in the streets with none to bury them, as motionless as
a wild ox trapped in a hunter's net, unable to move.
listen to this,
- Because you have experienced the full measure of suffering, that atones
for all your sins;
and you are
"drunk" - confused as if drunk, but not from the drinking of wine,
but rather as the effect of all your suffering. (M.D.)
says your Master, HaShem,
Final Redemption, Israel will have drunk deeply and fully of the Cup of
Agony and Suffering throughout its history.
will place it in the hand of those that afflict you;
take revenge for the suffering of Israel.
David: Awaken, Awaken -
Wake up from the deep sleep of pain, and wear again the spirit that
emboldened you before. Yerushalayim,
the Holy City, wear again the clothing of your glory and of your happiness!
uses three different but similar words to mean, essentially, Wake up!:
Hitoreri, Uri, and Hitnaari.
The last has a slightly different connotation, actually, and means
Shake yourself. The first
two, however, reflect an interesting contrast.
In Passuk 51:17, Yeshayahu turned to the City of Yerushalayim
and urged it to Wake yourself up! Wake yourself up!
The City would be required to look inward, as it were, gather its
strength, and pull itself out of its mourning.
It apparently was unable to do so.
So in Passuk 52:1, Yeshayahu uses a different term, Wake up!
Wake up! not asking the City to use its own resources, which had been
greatly diminished, but providing help for it, by issuing a command, in the
Name of HaShem. With this
Divine assistance, it was finally able to rise.
yourself free of the dust,
in the Diaspora, in a country, no matter how affluent, that is not governed
by an independent Jewish government, especially when a country that is so
governed is available, is a form of slavery for a Jew.
thus says Hashem,
were sold for nothing" -
That is, only because of your sins
shall you be redeemed without payment
of silver" - Rather, only
through your Repentance (RADAK)
thus says the L-rd HaShem,
and Assyria/Babylonia overstepped their bounds in the persecution of Israel.
For although HaShem had made a decree requiring that the Jewish
People be enslaved, in the first case, and punished, in the second, Egypt
should not have imposed such harsh, back-breaking tasks upon them, and Ashur/Bavel
should not have shown such cruelty as they did.
They exhibited excessive cruelty when Sancheriv exiled the Ten Tribes
and Nevuchadnezzar destroyed Yerushalayim and exiled the Tribes of Yehudah
and Binyamin. (RADAK)
now, therefore, for what reason am I here?'
of this Passuk is the Third Exile. Hashem,
as it were, asks, "Why have I made this Exile so long and hard?
The oppressors of My People have shown them no mercy; nor have they
refrained from killing them for the 'crime' of clinging to their
translated the expression "yehelilu," as "they made them
wail," following the RADAK, who takes the root as being "to
wail;" as found in connection with the Shofar blast of "Teruah,"
which the Talmud describes as "yelala," a wailing cry. RASHI and Metzudat David translate that expression as meaning
"they cried out triumphantly."
let My People know My Name;
know, at the time of the Redemption, that I am worthy of My Name, for I have
kept all the promises that I spoke. (RASHI and Metzudat David)
beautiful on the hills,
wonderful will it be when the messenger comes, announcing the salvation of
Israel, for then it will be evident
to all, not just to people of faith, that HaShem
is, was and always will be King! (RADAK)
is the cessation of war, "Goodness" is the return to radiant
potential, as the World possessed at the time of Creation, and
"Salvation" is redeemed potential.
reference to the "feet" of the messenger has to do with the
re-institution of the "Shalosh Regalim," the three major Pilgrim
festivals, Pesach, Shavuot
and Sukkot, when the Jewish People
would travel on the hills of Jerusalem to the Temple to be seen their by
The call of
your watchmen is heard!
forth into joy, sing together,
walks through Yerushalayim today, with his outer and inner ears open, he or
she can hear this singing.
has revealed His Holy Arm,
the "Passuk" does not refer to the "Mighty Arm," but
rather to the "Holy Arm," of HaShem, for a Name of HaShem is
"Shalom," Peace. He
is indeed the Almighty, but He is also the Holy King, who infinitely prefers peace to war.
Depart! Go out from there;
who bear the vessels of HaShem" refers to the "Kohanim"
and "Leviim", who carried
the sacred vessels in the desert (we see in RASHI text in parentheses,
casting some doubt as to the authenticity of the text in RASHI, that says,
"Here is an allusion to the Revival of the Dead.")
Metzudat David, the "vessels of HaShem" refer to Torah and Mitzvot,
and their bearers are those Jews who have remained faithful to the Torah of
uncleanness referred to is the "uncleanness" of the Lands of the
Exile vis-à-vis the holiness of the Land of Israel.
you will not depart in terror,
explains that the end of the Passuk explains the beginning, because one
whose messenger goes before him to locate possible danger, does not leave in
terror. And one who has someone
reliable walking behind to gather up the weak and the stragglers, and to
fend off attack, as the Tribe of Dan did when the Jewish People marched
through the desert, need not worry about problems from the rear, and can
concentrate on the road.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU