Haftaras Bamidbar

The final passage of this week’s haftarah includes the following famous verse (Hoshea 2:21): “And I shall betroth you to Me forever. I shall betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in kindness and in compassion.” The Maggid offers a number of interpretations.
1. There are two paradigms for the bond between Hashem and us. One paradigm is the bond between husband and wife. The other is the bond between relatives: we are called Hashem’s “kindred people” (Tehillim 148:14), and we have been so from the very beginning. Now the bond of love between husband and wife is forged through justice, in terms of mutual obligations. The bond of love between relatives, by contrast, is forged purely through kindness. In the end of days, Hashem will show us a dual form of love. It will include the “familial” love that He had for us from the beginning, due to our being His “kindred people” – a love that stems from pure kindness. And it will include as well the love that He will feel for us due to our fulfillment of the covenant we made with Him at Sinai – a love that stems from justice. God will knit these two strands of love together into a unified whole, and pass it over into our hands. (From the commentary on Shir HaShirim 4:9.)
2. Hashem gave us an array of mitzvos, whose true purpose is to benefit us. At the same time, Hashem wished to make us worthy of being called righteous by virtue of having obeyed His will. This made it necessary that we perform the mitzvos solely for the sake of serving Him, and not for the sake of our own benefit. Hashem therefore obscured the true purpose of the mitzvos. He made it seem as if the mitzvah acts we perform are for His benefit, and are meant to promote His governance.
The Maggid brings out the point with the following allegory. A king ordered his servant to move all of his royal possessions to another house. The servant rushed to carry out the order, and he diligently hauled all of the property in the royal palace over to the designated house, down to the very last item. When he finished the job, the king approached him and said: “What is the wage for your work? Tell me, and I will pay.” The servant replied: “Your Majesty, you saw all the effort I exerted. I am sure you realize that I deserve a large sum for my work.” The king declared: “Behold, I give you both the house and everything you carried into it.” The servant thought he was working for pay, but in fact he was working for his own benefit.
Similarly, at present we operate under the assumption that we are following the dictates of righteousness and justice in order to cater to Hashem’s needs. We therefore continually ask Him to reward us with kindness and compassion. In the end of days, however, Hashem will expose the open the hidden truth. We will see that righteousness and justice are actually at one with kindness and compassion – that righteousness and justice themselves bring us kindness and compassion. We will realize that everything Hashem demands of us is for our own benefit. And then, through this knowledge, we will be bound to Hashem and heed His word faithfully. (Also from the commentary on Shir HaShirim 4:9.)
3. At present, due to our limited understanding, we do not truly recognize that kindness and compassion depend upon righteousness and justice. Hence, we ardently seek kindness and compassion, but do not hope so ardently for righteousness and justice. In the end of days, however, Hashem will open our eyes, and we will see clearly that righteousness and justice are the source of kindness and compassion, just as plowing and planting are what lead to reaping. As the Torah says repeatedly, obedience to Hashem’s will brings blessing. Once we gain a clear grasp of this connection, we will crave righteousness and justice just as we crave kindness and compassion. (From the commentary on the haftarah in Kochav MiYaakov.)
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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