The “bedikas matzah” (the search for matzah crumbs in the couch and the carpet) is over. Post-Pesach, the vacuum cleaners have been recalled into service, and the boxes of Pesach dishes and utensils have been marched back down to the cellar (or up to the attic), silently passing their chametz counterparts being marched in the opposite direction.
The Sedarim took place and their ethereal light shone. Questions were asked and responses given; stories were recounted. Divrei Torah were delivered and, for the fortunate among us, new insights were granted.
And the haftarah on Yom Tov’s final day (in chutz la’Aretz) was read. Were we listening?
The excerpt from Yeshayahu (10:32-12:6) includes the Navi’s vision of the end of history, when the “wolf will dwell with the lamb” and perfect peace will reign among the world’s human inhabitants as well, for they will all recognize Hashem and His people.
The backdrop for the expression of that vision was the massing outside Yerushalayim of the army of Ashur, intoxicated with its successful conquest of much of Eretz Yisrael. Its king Sancheriv and his henchman Ravshakeh mocked the Jews; brimming with self-confidence, they blustered and blasphemed. But the besieging forces were to meet a sudden downfall, as the Navi foretold, suddenly and miraculously smitten by Hashem’s malach, as recounted in Melachim II (18-19).
Yeshayahu then moves to his vision of a more distant future, when Moshiach will appear, Klal Yisrael will be rescued from all who wish them harm and “the land will be filled with knowledge of Hashem, like the waters cover the seabed.”
Yirmiyahu Hanavi also speaks of that era, giving voice to Hashem’s promise that one day “It will no longer be said, ‘Chai Hashem Who brought Bnei Yisrael up from the land of Mitzrayim,’ but rather ‘Chai Hashem Who brought Bnei Yisrael up from the land of the north and from all the lands to which He cast them, and returned them onto their [own] land’” (16:14).
In other words, despite the miracles and wonders of Yetzias Mitzrayim, the germinal event in Klal Yisrael’s formation, that geulah will pale beside the one yet to come.
Why, though? Didn’t our ancestors’ enslavement in Egypt seem a hopeless sentence, as we recalled on the Seder nights, and wouldn’t its continuation have spelled the very undermining of the Jewish nation?
The makkos and Krias Yam Suf, though powerful expressions of Hashem’s love of His people, were but temporary interruptions of the natural course of things. What the Neviim presage, though, is a permanent transformation of nature itself.
It has forever been the case that animals are both food and prey. A world where the lamb will be able to invite the wolf for a visit is a world radically altered in its essence. As is a world where Klal Yisrael has been gathered from the corners of the earth back to their promised home. And a world where, instead of the “normative” hatred of Jews, all the nations will unite in humble servitude to Hashem and in reverence for His people.
There are individuals among the umos ha’olam, in some very unlikely places, who have already embraced the truths of history and who, from a distance, venerate Hashem and revere Klal Yisrael. I personally have corresponded with one such family, in a Muslim land, for more than a decade. The day will come, the Neviim assure us, that such recognition of truth will, as we might say today, “go viral,” and fill the world “with knowledge of Hashem like the waters cover the seabed.” It is a striking simile in this, our world, enveloped as it is by an ocean of information.
The Navi’s vision of the future should intrude on our present. All the threats against Klal Yisrael these days should remind us of Sancheriv and Ravshakeh’s boastful rantings — and of their downfall.
And they should remind us, too, that it is Hashem alone Who, as in Mitzrayim, will usher in the metamorphosis of the world the Neviim envisioned. When we knit our brows and announce our confident convictions about whether this or that is the savviest geopolitical course; this or that leader is to be trusted; this or that person a wise pundit or a fool, we are really just entertaining ourselves.
The only truth is, as Yeshayahu proclaims: “Behold, Hashem is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid… for great in your midst is the Holy One of Yisrael.”