Isaiah – Chapter 51

Passing the Cup

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Isaiah tells the righteous to listen to him: Look at the rock from which you were cut and the hole from which you were dug – referring to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was a lone person when G-d called him and G-d blessed him to become multitudes. G-d will console Israel, turning wasteland into gardens. Rejoicing will be found in the land. Words of Torah will shine forth and G-d’s judgment will be a light to nations; they will have rest from war.

G-d’s righteousness is near; salvation is on the way. G-d will chastise the nations and they will rely on Him. Heaven and Earth may eventually pass away, but G-d’s righteousness will last forever. So listen to G-d and don’t worry about what people may say. Their criticisms are worthless; they will be consumed like a worm does to wool.

Elijah prays for G-d to “awaken” His might and take action, as in the “olden days” in Egypt, when He dried up the sea. The exiles will be redeemed and return in song, heads held high. Sadness will run away from them.

G-d replies to Isaiah that He is the One Who consoles. Why fear a mortal man who withers like grass? People forget G-d, Who created the universe, and they worry about humans, who are here today and gone tomorrow. Your oppressor is mortal; he has no power to harm you. It is G-d who moves the sea and who put words of Torah in our mouths. He sheltered us and preserved us to be like the stars of Heaven and the sands of the shore.

Awaken, Jerusalem! You have finished drinking from the cup of G-d’s punishment. The Jews in exile were directionless. How will Jerusalem be consoled? Her children have fainted in the streets. Listen, you afflicted people, who are “drunk” from your troubles. G-d says that we will no longer drink from the cup of punishment – He will pass it to those who oppressed us.

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