Hatarat Ki Tavo: Loving Nations



[Yeshayahu 60:1-22]

 

Two thousand and seven hundred years ago, Yeshayahu prophesied: The day will come when all humanity will recognize the amazing contribution of the Nation of Israel and they will live in great joy.

 

"The load of a caravan of camels will overwhelm you, the first-born camels of Midian and Ephah, all coming from Sheba.  They will carry gold and frankincense, and they will announce praise of Hashem.  All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together for you.  The rams of Nevayot will serve you, they will be brought up willingly upon My altar and I will glorify My House of Splendor" (Yeshayahu 60:6-7).

 

In the time of our final return to Zion, the very  nations of the world who oppressed us over the course of thousands of years will accept blame and attempt to fix the wrongs they perpetrated.   At the end of the Exile, we will return to having sovereignty over our Land and will beam with joy: "Lift up your eyes around and see, they are all gathered together, and come to you.  Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters on the side.  Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will throb and become enlarged, because the abundance of the sea will return to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you" (ibid. v. 4-5).  This generous outpouring by the nations of the world will not have as its goal exerting pressure on us but rather, expressing their deep recognition for what we have done for them.

 

"And the sons of those who afflicted you will bow before you.  And all those that despised you will bow down at the soles of your feet.  And they will call you the City of Hashem, the Sign of the Presence of the Holy One of Israel" (ibid. v. 14).  In the final calculation, all of humanity will recognize and express its gratitude for the amazing contribution to human history made by the Nation of Israel.  All of the nations will then joyously take part in the revival of the Nation of Israel, out of the understanding that this is the source of their joy (see Orot, Orot Yisrael 5, 15).  

 

The great messianic hope will be actualized: "And nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by the radiance of your shining" (ibid. v. 3).  To a certain extent, this prophecy was already fulfilled during the time of King Shlomo (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:10), but its full actualization will take place in the Future Days.  We can already feel an example of this level in our days.  The First World War was a catastrophe: not only did European Humanism fail to stop the violence of  war, it failed to curb Western man’s brutality, which exploded in all of its perversion and cruelty.  Following the war, humanity felt a deep need to correct its path, to correct one of history's greatest injustices. The Nation of Israel was on the receiving end of this need, when the nations agreed that we could recreate our national home.

 

These good intentions did not last long, since a short time after the Balfour Declaration the English decided to guard their relationship with the Arabs and placed their narrow national interests over truth and justice.  Humanity then sunk into the Second World War, and we – the National of Israel – were swept up in this horrible cesspool.

 

But in the end, justice will prevail and the nations of the world will try, to a certain extent, to compensate us for previous perversions and help us: "For the residents of the islands hope in me, with ships from the Port of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, with their silver and gold, for the sake of Hashem your G-d, and for the Holy One of Israel, who has brought glory upon you.  And strangers will build your walls and their kings will serve you, for in a moment of anger I struck you, but with My full will have I showered mercy upon you" (ibid. v. 9-10).  

 

But humanity will not unanimously reveal its affection toward us.  There will still be nations who refuse to embrace our message, and they will have to accept the consequences: "For the nation and kingdom that refuses to serve you will be lost, and such nations, will be utterly destroyed" (ibid. v. 12).  Such a nation will not understand that by interfering in our return to our Land, they are cutting off the branch upon which they sit.

 

This period will be complex: "For darkness will cover the earth, and thick darkness the nations, but Hashem will make you shine, and His Glory will be seen over you" (ibid. v. 2).  For some it will be a period of light, but for others it will be a period of darkness. 

 

Maran HaRav Kook explained (Orot, Orot Yisrael 5, 15) that in this final struggle, there will be a certain number of nations who refuse to accept the light which emanates through the Nation of Israel, a light which includes ethical demands and places limits on the pleasures of this world.  They will therefore desire the destruction of the Nation of Israel.  But in the End of Days, all of humanity will understand that through these demands one is provided with the greatest joy and pleasure.  Therefore, on that day, those who understand will love us and their greatest honor will be to serve us, as the prophet Zechariah (8:23) says: "Ten men from all of the languages of the nations will hold the corner of a Jew."

 

We will then finally be able to experience eternal joy, which is the ultimate purpose of our world, together with all of humanity.  "The sun will no longer provide your light by day, nor will the moon be your light by night, but Hashem will be an eternal light for you, and your G-d will be your Glory" (ibid. v. 19).  The Rambam explained in Moreh Nevuchim (2, 29) that this Redemption of the Nation of Israel will be the final one, and there will be no future exiles, as it says (ibid. v. 20): "Neither your sun nor your moon will set, for Hashem will be for you an Eternal Light, and the days of your mourning will come to an end."

 

It has become clear to all of humanity that the Nation of Israel, despite periodic episodes of unethical behavior, is righteous in its essential nature: "And Your Nation is complete righteousness, they will inherit the Land forever" (ibid. v. 21).