The number seven is so much part of the Great Plan. The entire creation came into existence in 6 days, but it didn’t come to an absolute standstill. Surprisingly the menuchah that Hashem created was active; Hashem allowed kedushah (transcendent holiness) to enter, so that later people like you and I have the ability to get out of a picture so that you can see the picture without distorting it by putting yourself in the center. The menuchah of the 7th day brought kedushah with it, so that you can see both the art and the Artist in ways that elude you during the 6 days when you are occupied with the business of living your life.
Let’s look at the number six- the number that Hashem used in creating everything mundane. The number fits; every material object has 6 sides (the four sides plus up and down). However, something of the 7 touches 6. No matter how thin an object is, it also has an interior. This is where the number seven “lives” it is the pnimiyus, reality’s inner dimension. Today’s Haftorah is the 7th one of the “Shiva Dinechemta” the seven Haftorah’s of consolation. In many ways, its themes tell you the inner realities of Hashem’s evolving plan for the world, describing both the 6 (the external nature of redemption) and 7 (it’s inner meaning).
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
“You will be happy, you will rejoice” you as a nation, and you as an individual are in for changes. Two words that mean happiness that used at the beginning (Soss and Tagel) were chosen carefully. The word “soss” means external and collective happiness, the kind that was felt on VE day, when news of a final victory in Europe hit the States. My mother told me how throngs of people spontaneously headed to the streets to celebrate together. The geulah is a time of far greater victory; the final defeat of evil will bring the people of the world together in ways that not only haven’t ever been equaled, but can’t even be imagined. “Tagel” is related to the word “gil” which (as Malbim explains) is used to describe inner joy. Only you know what finally being rid of all of your devils, your vulnerabilities, fears, and scars will feel like. It isn’t only the world that will be healed, you too will be healed. Malbim compares your personal geulah to a tailor-made garment that fits you uniquely. No one else can “wear” it or even fully understand it.
What if we aren’t ready?
Yishaya tells us that Hashem will never let you reach the point of no return, or allow Yerushalaim to disappear. He has” placed guardians at the gates”. Who are these guardians? The meforshim take you in many directions. Perhaps, as Yalkut suggests, one may be Michael, the great angel who offers the souls of the Tzadikim before Hashem, drawing down their merits. Perhaps Gavriel who is empowered by Hashem to bring justice to our enemies is the other guardian. Perhaps, it is the merit of the Avos whose lives go beyond their lifetimes and are the ones who drew angelic intervention. Perhaps (Alsheich suggests) it is those who devote themselves to living like the Avos, in total devotion to Torah that brings them down to this world. Perhaps it is tefillah, maybe even your tefillah. The important thing, Yeshaya tells you, is don’t be silent; keep asking and longing. And if there isn’t enough merit, the geulah will come anyway, and the day will arrive when the brilliance and clarity of what lies inside, under the surface will be recognized even by the non-Jewish world.
The bills will be paid. Good and evil can’t coexist in uneasy harmony. Evil has to be destroyed and Yishaya tells you in no uncertain terms that everything that Edom represents will no longer have a place on the planet. They will be utterly defeated and destroyed. Hearing this isn’t just meant to leave you with a feeling of optimistic hope. It should awaken your ability to see that Hashem is with you in your suffering.
What does it mean?
One of the final psukim in today’s Haftarah is, “In all of your sorrow, He has (no) sorrow”. You didn’t see a typo. The word for “him” lo, is written with a vav. If written with an aleph, it means, “not”. Let’s look at how both meanings relate to you. Hashem when ‘lo’ is read as though it is written with a vav, the Shlah explains, it tells you that Hashem indeed is with you, and always has been. There are times when you make it hard for Him to maintain His deep connection because you can close the door against Him with such force that you end up drowning in a whirlpool of doubt/fear/innui/escapism. The more you try to get out the more the chaos deafens you with its unceasing roar. It is when you feel you can’t try any longer, that you have taken yourself out of the center. .. At that point Hashem is with you, feels your pain, and waits for the moment when your eyes are open enough go to grab at a rope he tosses towards you. It can save you if you see it. Let’s say that you do. It seems too far for you to reach; you have exhausted yourself to the degree that you don’t know if you can make it. The next moment you are holding onto the rope, and can feel yourself being pulled to safety. This is the syatta di’Shmaya that can bring you back to being the seeker that you want to be, and know that you can be. Seeing you in pain and struggling is His pain, His sorrow. This is Lo with a vav.
Let us now understand the pasuk with ‘vov’ with an aleph. Once you are safe, something changes. No more self-imposed chaos. You are clear about one thing; your place is dry land; stability, growth and dveikus. At that point the One who let you feel the pull of the water, and the awesome fear of death that you experienced is not sorry that this is what you went through. It was needed. It seed you life. ‘Lo tzar’, He has no sorrow for what happened. His “lo” is with an aleph .
WHAT DOES IT SAY TO YOU?
Your personal geulah is a tailor-made garment. Hashem is with you in your struggles He is the hidden author of your book. This is true for us as a nation just as much as it is for individuals. Our national identity is our relationship with Hashem. Other nations “find themselves” through their interactions with the world through agriculture, technology, natural science in all of its forms, they live in the world of the 6. We don’t - we have a deep need to find the inner dimension, which is the part of us that is inherently connected to Hashem. There have been times when our sense of self as a nation has floundered.
We struggle, come close to extinction but Hashem is always with us, saves us, and gives us the opportunity to rediscover the joy of return.