Haftaras Shabbos Rosh Chodesh

This week we read the special haftarah for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh. Speaking of Tziyon (Zion), it is written (Yeshayah 66:7): “Before she feels labor pains, she will give birth; before travail comes upon her, she will deliver a son!” The Midrash remarks (Bereishis Rabbah 85:1): “Before the first enslaver was born, the final redeemer was born.” The Maggid sets out to explain this Midrash. He takes as his starting point the following Gemara passage (Megillah 13b):
The Holy One Blessed Be He does not strike a blow to Yisrael unless He creates for them a cure for them beforehand. As it is written (Hoshea 7:1, homiletically): “When I healed Yisrael, the iniquity of Ephraim became revealed.”
It seems, the Maggid says, that the verse in Hoshea does not serve to prove the Gemara’s assertion that the cure precedes the blow. Rather, the Sages knew by tradition that Hashem, in His great mercy, prepares the cure before delivering the blow, but they wanted to explain why Hashem follows this course. The Maggid explains the idea as follows. The main purpose of exile is to heal and purify our souls. Yet the exile also exerts a negative spiritual influence on us, as it is written (Tehillim 106:35): “They mingled with the nations and learned their ways.” The verse in Hoshea describes the problem Hashem is faced with: He seeks to heal us through exile, but the exile leads us to exhibit increased iniquitous behavior. Hashem therefore had to prepare the redeemer in advance, when we still had some merit to our credit, before we reached the point of spiritual mortal danger, lest it happen, far be it, that when the time for the redemption approached we would be unworthy of being redeemed. Thus, even before the first enslaver came on the scene, Hashem set the final redeemer in place.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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