Netzavim – By the Grace of G-D

This week’s Haftorah is the last of the Haftorahs of Comfort read in the weeks after Tisha B’Av, depicting the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash when Moshiach comes, including the ingathering of all the Jews from exile. In the middle of the Haftorah we have the famous pasuk: “On your walls, O Yerushalayim, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night, they shall never be silent; those who remind the Lord, be not silent” (Yeshayahu 62:6).

This pasuk is expounded upon in the conclusion of the 9th perek of Gemara Menachos: “On your walls, O Yerushalayim, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night, they shall never be silent; those who remind the Lord, be not silent. What do they say? — Rabba son of R. Shila said. [They say,] ‘You will arise and have compassion upon Tzion, for there is a time to favor it, for the appointed season has arrived.’ (Tehillim 102:14).  R. Nahman b. Isaac said, [They say,] ‘The Lord builds up Yerushalayim’ (Tehillim 147:2). And what did they say before this (before the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash)? — Raba son of R. Shila said, [They used to say.] ‘For the Lord has chosen Tzion; He has desired it for His habitation’ (Tehillim 132:13).” Rashi points out that in the future the “watchmen” will also be saying the pasuk of “For the Lord has chosen Tzion,” as the Iyun Yaakov observes: this is alluded to in the next pasuk: “This is my resting place forever,” referring to the future when there will be no more exile and destruction.The Maharsha explains who these “watchmen” are: “They are the angels who give a positive account of the Jews and convince Hashem to be gracious on the Jews so that they will be redeemed from exile, speedily in our days.” The Maharsha goes on to recount that in the day and night these angels declare these pesukim, as it writes: ‘Today, if with his voice you will be heard’ for every day is the time and the appointed season has come for the redemption, (explaining the first pasuk). Also, when it says “builds up Yerushalayim,” the present tense is used, for every moment in time is the potential moment of the redemption (explaining the second pasuk). The Maharsha concludes that the pasuk said before the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash which will also be said once it is rebuilt, speedily in our days, refers to the fact that Hashem chose Tzion in this world and desires it to be His “permanent abode” in the World to Come. (Click here for Hebrew translation.)

If the angels are constantly pointing out our merits and showing Hashem that we deserve to be showered with His grace and redeemed from the ongoing exile, why then hasn’t Hashem, the All Powerful, All Good, with one of His attributes of mercy being graciousness, redeemed us already?We must say that Hashem who is also All Knowing understands that if he were to redeem us now then it wouldn’t be with the utmost of grace, as we have the ability and potential to be more deserving of redemption. If Hashem redeemed us before the best possible time, then our lives in The World to Come could not be fully appreciated or enjoyed, as it will be when we are redeemed at the opportune time.

This is alluded to from a gemara I quoted in last week’s Food for Thought: “Rebbi Yochanan said, “The son of Dovid (Moshiach) will come in a generation which is either entirely innocent or entirely guilty. Entirely innocent as it says ‘And your people, all of them righteous,’ entirely guilty as it says ‘And He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor’ (Yeshayhu 59:16) and it also says ‘For My sake, for My sake I will do etc.’ (Yeshayahu 48:11)” (Sanhedrin daf 98a). (Click here for Hebrew text.)

This gemara seems to indicate that Moshiach will come if the Jewish people will be fully ready and deserving to receive Moshiach (which the Maharsha in that gemara says will be when we all choose to do complete repentance on our own). We can then assume, being that Hashem is All Good and Gracious, that that must be the most optimum time, when Hashem will send Moshiach, so that we can then appreciate to the maximum his presence, and the new state we will be in. However if, G-D forbid, we sink so low that there is pretty much no hope in ever reaching perfection by ourselves, then Hashem, without a choice, will indeed redeem us for the sake of his Holy Name lest a tremendous chillul Hashem will take place (the Maharsha says that Hashem will achieve this by sending a king the likes of Haman to force us to repent and be deserving of redemption).

We are on the eve of a new year and Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgement, is upon us. May we all, every Jew as a whole, finally come together in true repentance, and be judged to be inscribed in the eternal Book of Life.