Inspiration: Connection is the Key

By Rebbetzin Tziporah Gottlieb

Visions, Parshas Noach, Haftarah Yeshayah 54:1–55:5

What does the Haftarah say?


Is there always consolation?

If the haftarah looks familiar, don’t be surprised. It was read during the seven weeks of consolation along with Parashas Ki Seitzei. Yeshayah narrates two kinds of utter desolation. The first one was the world after the flood. You can never really perceive the scope of utter destruction that left the entire world barren. The second was the description of life when exile begins. The desolation that you would have seen at the time of the flood was the physical expression of the new reality called galus.

Yeshayah tells you that even destruction of such enormous proportions leads ultimately to consolation. How can you be comforted when you are facing a reality in which it seems that no comfort is possible?
Harav Gamliel Rabinovitch, shlita, has a unique approach to these parshiyos, much as he has a unique approach to the lives of the people who stream to him seeking answers and seeking direction. As a mekubal, he understands the hidden world in which the “smoke screen of evil” is seen for what it is. Hashem created a barrier, much like a smoke screen, in which the side that faces Him, the source of all good, is one in which good is visible. The side that faces us is dark — it is goodness in an impenetrable disguise. All of the impenetrable darkness from outside of the curtain is inevitably sourced in the light that flows from the inside.

How Can Darkness Be Sourced in Light?
There is light that is at times visible only from the other side of the curtain, His side, in which He generates only good. In order for us to be in partnership with Him, He gave us the ability to generate good as well. The way we do this is through bringing kvod Shamayim to dark places. Hashem promised that at the end, if we don’t succeed in lifting the curtain, He will. In the meantime, you have to know how to cope with darkness. This doesn’t mean ignoring darkness or denying its presence. There are and must be times of mourning. Omitting mourning implies that no loss really happened. Noach did not ignore the darkness he confronted when he faced a world that was totally desolate. Ignoring the world’s devastation would have been criminal for Noach. He committed himself to uplifting the world that he could rebuild by offering sacrifices.

When you examine the cost of exile, you have to see the emptiness that surrounds you, but you also must come to grips with moving on to the next step. The chiddush is that the next step takes you farther than you ever could have gone had you not made the choice to find Hashem’s kavod even in galus.

Hear Hashem Speak the Way You Would Want Your Child to Hear You Speak
Sometimes parents are harsh. Sometimes it’s the only way and perhaps the best way if the real goal is to help your child. Even so, the most important thing is “how” you speak to the child (either in words, feelings or actions). You can still be there for him in a way that communicates both your love for him and his significance as a person who is worthy of this kind of love. The message of comfort is the main thing; the severity is a means toward an end. Without seeing how much you love him even in the worst moments, your child will never grasp the depth of your love.

Yeshayah spoke his message of consolation over a century before the destruction took place! (For those of you who like history, Yeshayah began his “career” as a Navi at the beginning of Uziah ben Amatziah’s reign, in the year 3115. He continued during the rule of Uziah’s son Yosam, and his grandson Achaz, whose son Chizkiyahu ben Achaz ruled until 3228. The destruction occurred in 3338. Those of you who don’t like history have my permission to cross out this tidbit of information.) When someone is drowning in pain, Hashem tells them to hold on; He is there, and there will be another day, a day of life and goodness. The Romans would say, “All roads lead to Rome.” Yeshayah (l’havdil) is saying, “All roads lead to kvod Shamayim and the comfort that comes with it.”

Amit ben Yigal was killed by a stone thrown from a roof in what was the first casualty of the war in Gaza. He was an only son. When the knock on the door came, his mother couldn’t stop her agonized screaming. His father said that he’d lost everything that mattered to him in life. When the father was taken to Harav Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l, no one really expected any words a human could utter would make a difference. Rav Chaim listened, and told him that his son is “Now with Rabi Shimon,” which introduced something beyond Amit’s presence in their lives, something that they wanted for him.

This is true for you
Do an exercise. Go back to any period in Jewish history beyond your own times. If you were in Mitzrayim, would you have left? Or would hopelessness have doomed you to stay there? Everyone lives through their own exile. The promise of a collective redemption for all of us should open your heart to the realization that your own private galus is part of a larger picture. Being able to see this can give you the tools to know how to deal with your dark days.

Yeshayah says, “Establish yourself with tzedakah.” When you hear this you may feel, “Now isn’t the right time. I have no energy for anyone or anything else.” The reasoning seems sound but the reality is different. You are moving beyond yourself. Avraham was the first person to not only know the Creator, but to do whatever a human can do to mirror Him and to draw down His presence. This is why we seal the first blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei with the words magen Avraham. Hashem shields the capacity for kindness that Avraham brought into the world and is committed to keeping some of this aspect of His Presence in your heart and soul. The more connection you feel (initially with the bonding that chessed offers you, ultimately with Hashem, its Source) the more the awareness of the precious nature of connection becomes. This opens you to finding spiritual joy regardless of what situation you face.
Yeshayah has an interesting proposition: Move forward, not just in spite of the difficulties life presents but move forward because it seems impossible. Yeshayah’s text tells you that those who come to dwell (gor) will have nothing from Me (Rashi). Chazal explain (Yevamos 24b) that this hints at the fact that no new geirim will be accepted when Moshiach comes. The underlying principle doesn’t necessarily apply only to prospective converts. It applies to those who believe that this is the path toward reconciliation with oneself, and consolation in the face of genuine pain.

Noach had to look at the world and begin again in the midst of a desolation that we can never fully grasp. When he was forewarned, he saw no hope, and didn’t make any real effort to change the decree against the entire world. Yeshayah tells you never to fall into that trap. You can look at the past and see salvation and you can look at the future and see Geulah. The trick is to make these ideas feel real in the life you actually live.

The key is to learn to find chessed and to integrate it and then act on it. The reason to do this isn’t because this is what you find in all of the better self-help books. It’s because Hashem sees you, knows that you are storm-tossed and He will be there for you whether or not you are worthy. He paved the path by presenting you with ways to concretize your connection to Him and to others.

What Does the Parashah Say to You?
Ramban tells you in Parashas Ki Savo that Hashem hides His face not only in exile, but even the slow movement toward the Geulah is hidden. You can be part of it. 

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!