Ki Tavo: Haftarah of Consolation #6
Isaiah Chapter 60: Isaiah is approaching the end of his life, the end of his prophetic visions. He has lived to see his grandson, Menashe, become one of the most destructive of all the kings of Yehuda, the Southern Kingdom. In fact,
Menashe will soon execute his grandfather in a horribly creative death. The Jews have gone from Menashe’s father, Hezekiah, a man perceived by many to be the messiah, to the son unique in his evil. The people had touched greatness and hope only to fall again.
At this point of the prophet’s life he must convey a vision that will not be added to the list of failed achievements, another high moment expected to fail, as have so many others. Isaiah wants to give the people a vision that they can carry with them for generations, in Israel and in Exile, in moments of achievement and moments of failure.
Yeshayahu uses the prophecy of this chapter to take the people all the way back to the first moments of Creation, and all the way forward to the Messiah and the World to Come. He uses the concept of light as the introduction to this penultimate prophecy. He describes the light of Creation, the Hidden Light, with which one could see and understand the purpose of each detail of Creation. This was the light of the first day, the light of Ultimate Clarity. This was the light that was “hidden” by God from those who would misuse it and treasured for the righteous in the World to Come.
Yeshayahu passionately wants the people to understand that they will succeed only if they can maintain this vision of the restoration of the Ultimate Light of Creation. This vision is not only for those who are desperate and in exile. Of course, they will need this vision of redemption in order to maintain hope despite their circumstances. Yeshayahu is also addressing his contemporaries, the same people he criticized at the beginning of his career for their lack of passion and for their observance of the commandments as habit rather than an expression of love and a drive to repair the world.
Rise up Jerusalem and shine with the Light you were destined to reveal to the world. God will associate His glory with you when you reflect His light, when you are committed to restoring that original light. Your glory will be when you lead all of Creation back to its Source and unify it with the Creator. This is the vision you must maintain whether in Israel or in Exile, in good times and bad. It is not enough to wish for a return to the land. Rise up and dream of restoring the original light to all the people of the earth.
Even if the entire world is covered with darkness, even if they are hidden from God, if you live with this vision, God will shine His light on you; people will look at you and see the reflection of God in the world. The darkness is only when we cannot see God’s light. If we live guided by this dream of reflection God’s light in the world then God’s Presence will be reflected in us. Others will see.
Isaiah wants us to understand that it is not enough to observe the commandments, to pray, to study, and to serve God. We must do all of the above with this vision guiding us. We must observe the commandments in such a manner that our actions will restore God’s Presence, God’s Light, to the world. We must pray to restore that clarity. We must study in order to remember our mission and to understand how we can succeed.
Isaiah is speaking to all of us, across the boundaries of time and levels of observance.
When you remember that this is your challenge, this is the purpose of the Jewish people, you will reflect God’s Light. All the nations will lead their lives guided by your light. Even the leaders of the other nations will look to you for direction.
Envision people streaming to Jerusalem from all directions. Picture all your children living with this picture of Jerusalem. This is the image you must feed your children.
If you live with this vision, the vision of restoring the original light of creation, you will see and you will provide light. You will be so astounded by what will happen simply because you are being guided by this image, that your hearts will constantly expand. You will attract all the nations of the earth to join with you and restore their relationship with God. This light is an ever-expanding light. The Presence of God will constantly and continuously expand in the world.
This is the vision of a world of Light. This is a vision in which all can experience the Presence of God. This is a vision in which all reconnect with their Creator. Isaiah describes in this vision how wealth will be used to serve God. People will perceive the beauty of serving God and the magnificence of His House in Jerusalem, for it too will reflect the Unity of creation, its reflection of God’s Presence, the Infinite Beauty of the Creator.
Isaiah again takes us back to the first week of creation. He reminds us of the mist that rose up from the ground and watered the face of the earth. This mist mixed with the earth and was used to from the body of the primal human being. The prophet describes a vision of our rising from the earth just as did that cloud. We will repair every aspect of our existence We will go back to the moment before the formation of our bodies, when we existed only in the expressed Will of the Creator.
Isaiah brings us back in time before the splitting of the upper and lower waters on the second day of creation. He brings us back to a world still unified. The lower waters will rise up as a cloud and reconnect with the upper waters. The first split in Creation will be repaired.
He then takes us back to the initial moments of creation when “the Spirit of God hovered over the earth,” compared by the commentaries to a dove hovering over her nest. The verse provides a powerful image of God hovering over the earth as a bird hovering over her nest to protect it and all that it contains.
Isaiah teaches us that if we can reconnect with this ultimate vision of restoring God’s Light to the world that we will repair all the damage that was caused when creation ceased to see, even to look, God’s Light. We will repair the very nature of humanity. We will restore unity. We will go back to those first moments of Creation when God hovered over us with His care and attention.
All the people will join Israel in repairing this world if Israel lives for and with this vision. All will understand what has happened over history and all will strive to restore what has been broken.
There will be no more suffering. You will no longer need the light of the sun and moon. You will live and be guided by the Light of God. You will merit seeing the light, the benefit, of all your efforts and service. You will witness the eternal benefits of your service of God, and you will live for all eternity.
Isaiah is describing the Ultimate mission of the Jewish People together with their infinite potential. It is for this vision that Isaiah wants us to pray on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the world. It is with this vision that the prophet challenges us to serve, study and pray.