Nachamu: What’s the Message Today? by Eli Reichner


The Haftarah for Parashat Eikev is in Yeshayahu, and it continues along the track of the previous Haftarot in that it seeks to comfort Bnei Yisrael. Yeshayahu pursues his goal of Nechamah through a two-sided tactic. The first element is to convey a message of immediate redemption and to explain that the exile will end soon; the second is to convey that Hashem is with Israel and is in an unbreakable relationship with them.

Yeshayahu explains,“Hein Al Kapayim Chakotich Chomotayich Negdi Tamid,” “Behold, I have engraved you on my palms, your walls are always before me” (49:16). This tells Bnei Yisrael that their children will hasten to conquer the land and will remove the present inhabitants. The message is that there will be an immediate redemption, as the children themselves will return, not the later generations. This immediate redemption is Yeshayahu’s first message.

The second message of Yeshayahu is to comfort Bnei Yisrael by enlightening them about their unique relationship with Hashem. Bnei Yisrael felt abandoned after the Churban; as such, they sought a Navi to talk to them and explain to them why they should still believe in Hashem if he destroyed the Beit HaMikdash and let his people slip into the hands of the conquerors. By Hashem doing this to them, Bnei Yisrael feel as though they have left Hashem’s Reshut, domain, and consequently shouldn’t need to follow him. God sold Bnei Yisrael to the nations, so why should Bnei Yisrael listen to the owner just who abandoned us? This was the question that the people in Dor HaChurban asked Yechezkel. The Navi responded that Bnei Yisrael were not sold away! Hashem had not abandoned them! Rather, Hashem only left them temporarily, and He planned on retrieving them from the Amim.

This drives at a more fundamental point: what is our relationship with Hashem? Are we His Avadim, slaves, or are we His children?

Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein proposes that in truth, our relationship with Hashem encompasses all of the above relationships. He is the master and we are his servants, yet we are not owned by him save for the fact that we are completely dependent on him; without Him we are nothing. However, at the same time as we are Hashem’s servants we are also His children; our relationship with Him is as multi-leveled and complex as any child’s relationship with his or her parents. Hashem is obligated to us and loves us just as parent, and we listen to Him and love Him. Thus our relationship with Hashem can take not only the form of a master and His slave, but as a relationship between a parent and their child.

This has immense ramifications on Bnei Yisrael even today. We must realize our unique relationship with Hashem. We must understand that although we are approaching our two thousandth year of Galut, Hashem is still our father and our master. We must continue to follow Him despite the fact that He hides Himself from us in our everyday lives, and has yet to bring our complete salvation.

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