Isaiah – Chapter 33

Kiruv in the Book of Isaiah

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Now, Isaiah says woe to the nation that plunders and betrays, for they themselves are about to be plundered and betrayed. (Most commentators identify this nation with Assyria, although Radak in a second opinion says it might also refer to the unidentified “fourth kingdom” seen in Daniel’s vision in the book that bears his name.) The Jews pray to G-d to be gracious to us, for we have hoped for Him. Nations scattered from before G-d when they saw their might was nothing before Him. The loot of the plundered nation will be gathered like grain by a plague of locusts. G-d is exalted above all, filling Jerusalem with justice and righteousness. The faith of the times will be strength, salvation, wisdom and knowledge. (The Talmud in Shabbos, page 31a, identifies faith, times, strength, salvation, wisdom and knowledge with the Six Orders of the Mishna: Zeraim, Moed, Nashim, Nezikin, Tohoros and Kodshim, respectively.)

The messengers of peace cry in the streets over the destruction. Assyria has broken their treaty with the kingdom of Judah by attacking Jerusalem. The land mourns; Assyria has disgraced Lebanon and emptied other nations, as well. G-d therefore says, “I will arise and take action. You, Assyria, will create chaff and fire, in effect destroying yourselves.”

G-d tells both “far-off” Jews (meaning those who who have followed His word for a long time) and “close” ones (meaning those who have only recently turned to Him) to listen and know His strength. (The prophet uses the word “kiruv,” meaning Jewish outreach, much the same way we do today – see Rashi on verse 13.) Jewish sinners were scared: how could they repent? Who can stand against the eternal flames? One who walks in righteousness, speaks honestly and despises bribes and other forms of evil. Such a person will dwell safely, as in a tower, not worrying where his next meal is coming from. They will see G-d in His glory and they will wonder what happened to those tyrants who formerly ruled. They will no longer be ruled by foreign nations.

Jerusalem will be rebuilt with innumerable towers, a place of peace that will not be moved. It will be a place of rivers, but no invading army will enter. G-d is our King, Who will save us. The ropes of the enemy ships are so loose, they won’t hold the sail or the mast properly; their loot will be divided among many nations. Israel, who were formerly sick and weak, will take their share. No longer will they be sick, for their sins have been forgiven.

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