Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shabbos Nachamu 5770 Yeshaya 40:1-26

This week's Haftarah, Parshas Va'Eschanan (Shabbos Nachamu), begins the period of comforting Haftaros. Please enjoy the blog, add comments, and share!

1: Comfort, comfort -This is referring to Yeshaya’s upcoming prophecies regarding the times of Moshiach. The repetition of the word ‘comfort’ emphasizes the future comfort. From this point until the end of his sefer are prophecies of comfort. This posuk is the transition point between the prophecies of punishment and those of comfort. “Comfort them My prophet, comfort”- My people”, says your Al-Mighty.

2: Speak -
words that are accepted by- [to] the heart of Yerushalayim and proclaim to her that her time -in exile- has been completed. Her sin has been forgiven -her punishment has ended- for she has received double -the great consolation from Hashem makes it seem as if she has been punished twice- for all of her sins -the double punishment is for her sins and the sins of her ancestors- from the hand of Hashem.

3: A voice
-of Ruach HaKodesh- calls out in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way of Hashem -the path to Yerushalayim, for her exiles to return to her- make a straight path in the desert -this refers to making a new road that was not there before, whereas the previous phrase refers to clearing a road that already existed but was blocked with rocks and other debris- a road for our Al-Mighty.’

4: Every valley -this verse describes through parable how easy the journey will be back to Yerushalayim. Traveling up and down mountains would normally wear out the traveler. The people returning to Yerushalayim will not become tired as they return- will be raised and every mountain and hill will be lowered. That which is twisted will be straightened and heights will become valley -the land will be smooth and easy to navigate.

5: The glory of Hashem will be revealed and all flesh together will see -All people will know- that the mouth of Hashem has spoken. -They will then know, when they see the prophecies being fulfilled, that all of this comfort that the prophets spoke of was from the mouth of Hashem. The seeing referred to here is that of the heart. They will know and understand in their hearts.

6: A voice -from Hashem speaks to me- [says], ‘Proclaim!’ And -my spirit- asks -the voice- ‘What shall I proclaim?’ -the voice responds, ‘Proclaim this:’- ‘All flesh is grass -most of the wicked enemies of Israel who will arrive with Gog and Magog will die. They will wilt and decay like grass- and all its kindness like a blossom in the field -even if they performed acts of kindness for Israel, they will not be remembered becase of all of their sins against Israel. They are compared to the blossoms of the field that quickly dry up and get blown away by the wind-

7: Grass withers and blossom fades when the breath of Hashem blows upon it;indeed, the nation -that arrives with Gog- is like the grass.

8: Grass withers and blossom fades -these enemy nations will dry up like the grass and wither like the blossom and they will be destroyed- but the word of our Al-Mighty -the promises He made through his prophets- stands forever’-none are able to nullify His word-

9: Ascend upon a high mountain -one who wishes his voice to be heard, goes to a high place- herald of Zion -groups of prophets who announce the Redemption to Zion- Raise your voice with strength, herald of Yerushalayim. Raise it. Have no fear -do not be afraid to raise your voice, because you think there will be false claims- Say to the cities of Yehudah, “Behold your Al-Mighty!” -the honor of His Presence will return to Yerushalayim-

10: Behold, my Lord, Hashem will come in strength -against the nations to take payment. He will come with a strong arm without the need for anyone else- His arm will rule for Him -His rule is not dependent on others. The strength of His army is solely in His outstretched arm. He relies on nothing but Himself for His strength and might- Behold, His reward is with Him -the reward for the righteous is ready to be given. His actions -the reward for the actions of the righteous is upon Him to give out- are before Him.

11: -He is- like a shepherd who grazes his flock, he gathers his lambs in his arm -like a kind shepherd who assists the younger lambs who are as yet unable to go on their own- he bears them in his bosom, he leads the nursing ewes -he does not move them quicker than they are able to move. So too, HaKodosh Boruch Hu leads Israel from their exile slowly and supports the sick and infirmed. A shepherd that watches his flock has much more mercy upon it than if it were being watched for payment from someone else-

12: Who measured the water in His palm -He has the power to do all of this and certainly he has the power to fulfill the promises He made. Like a person measures the depth of a container with his fist, Hashem placed the water where it belongs and knows how much is there- prepared the heavens with a measuring tool -since the heavens span a distance, a ‘zeres’ is used in this verse. It is a tool that is used to measure distance-, measured in a container the dirt of the ground -The nations should not wonder about how he can take Israel out from under their service after so many years of enslavement. The One who created the world from nothing is able to do this. These verses demonstrate Hashem’s abilities to do all- weighed mountains on a scale and hills with a balance? -He placed the mountains and hills in the land that was most fitting. Heavy mountains were placed in hard land. Lighter ones were placed in softer land-

13: Who can assess the spirit of Hashem -who prepared Hashem’s spirit for the prophets? Hashem did and He can be trusted. Hashem controls all of the elements of creation: water, fire, earth, air. Certainly He has ultimate control over the combinations thereof. No one can effect control over Him. Do not say He lacks wisdom and counsel to fulfill His promises: [and] what man could give Him counsel?

14: From whom did He seek counsel?
-is there anyone among the idolaters with whom He counsels like He counseled with Avrohom (Bereishis 18:17)?- [Who] gave Him insight? [Who] taught Him the path of justice -Who from among the idolaters have sought Him out through wisdom like Avrohom. He focused his efforts to recognize Hashem on his own and understand His Torah- and taught Him knowledge? [Who] explained the ways of understanding to Him?

15: The nations
-the idolaters that refuse to recognize their Creator and are not significant enough to Him that He would appoint a prophet from among them to reveal His secrets. Their powers- are like a drop from a bucket -like a bitter drop from the bottom of the bucket that contains the dirty water and rotten wood- and are considered like dust rubbing off a scale -the copper of the scale wears away and flakes off- behold, He will cast off the islands like dust -like dust blown away by the wind. Since Hashem has the unlimited power as described above, and He accomplishes it all without assistance, how could the nations prevent Him from taking Israel out of their captivity? These nations are considered like nothing before Him.

16: The -forest of- Lebanon -even though it is very large- does not have enough for kindling -on the altar of Hashem- and its beasts are not enough for Olah Korbonos -There are not enough animals to atone for the sins of the nations against Israel-

17: All the nations are like nothing before Him -they are like nothing in His eyes- He considers them as nothingness and emptiness -less than zero-

18: To whom can you compare G-d and what likeness can you attribute to Him? -you think that just like your false gods have no real power to save you, so too Hashem, chalila, is the same and you compare your idols to Him-

19: -Would you compare Him to- the idol cast by a blacksmith that is overlayed with gold -after the blacksmith forms it from iron or copper- and the silversmith overlays it with silver chains -to move it from place to place? How could your foolishness be so deep as to compare the most exalted G-d to something so lowly and disgusting as this?-

20: The poor man -who cannot afford the gold and silver idols- chooses wood for his idol that will not rot -they truly believe in their idols- He beseeches the wise woodworker to prepare an idol that will not fall apart -since wood is naturally weaker then iron, the abilities of the craftsman are much more apparent if he can make it strong and more permanent-

21: Do you not know -who placed the foundations of the world? It is He that you should be serving- Have you not heard? Has it not been told to you from the beginning -through tradition from one generation to the next since the beginning of time-? Have you not reflected on the foundations of the world -Are you able to understand the foundations of the world? There is no ‘foundation’ per se. The heavens surround the entire Earth. How could it possibly stand if not for the decree of the Omnipresent!-?

22: It is He who sits on the circumference of the Earth -He sits upon the heavens that surround the Earth- Those who dwell upon it -before Him- are like grasshoppers -the comparison is to a person who is very high up. When he looks down, everything appears very small- He spreads the heavens -as if it were a thin- curtain and stretches them like a tent to dwell in- He sits under the tent of the firmament upon the center of the Earth like a king who sits among the people of his country. These images must demonstrate how great a King He truly is!

23: Who turns governors -wise counselors- into nothingness -it is as if they don’t exist in His presence- Who makes the judges of the land as if they never existed -flesh and blood kings lack wisdom so they employ counselors. They cannot enforce the law alone across their entire kingdom so they hire judges. Hashem, with His wisdom, turns these counselors into nothingness and He can enforce His laws without the aid of judges, rendering them null and void-

24: -These governors and judges are- as if they were not even planted , as if they were not even sown -they’re uprooted as if they were never sown- as if they had never taken root in the ground -they will never be restored to their positions of power after they are uprooted- If He were to blow on them -even only slightly- they would dry up and a storm wind would carry them away like straw.

25: ‘To whom can you compare Me -Since I can do all that has been described here, who can actually be compared to Me- that I should be -his- equal’, says the Holy One -who is separate and distinct from anything physical or comparable-

26: Raise your eyes towards heaven -these creations are physically larger and more powerful then the creations below, yet He created these as well- and see Who created these -the stars and all the celestial bodies in heaven- He brings out their legions by number, He calls them all by name -the world was created from nothing and that necessitates the existence of a Creator- from His abundant power and His tremendous strength, not one is missing.

We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Haftaros Elucidated and have found it helpful in understanding this week’s Haftarah.

This week, the Haftorah was elucidated with the commentaries of Rashi, Radak, Metzudos David and Tziyon, Mahari Kra, Malbim, and Targum.