Haftaras Shabbos Rosh Chodesh

This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, and we therefore read the special haftarah for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh. The haftarah concludes with the following words (Yeshayah 66:23-24):
And it will be, that at every New Moon and on every Sabbath all mankind will come to prostrate themselves before Me, says Hashem. And they will go out and see the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me, for decay shall not cease and their fire will not be extinguished, and they will lie in disgrace before all mankind.
In Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar Avodas HaElokim, Chapter 7, the Maggid quotes the second of these two verses in connection with a discourse on man’s place in this world. We present this discourse here.
A person must realize that man is not just another animal. For if he were, why would Hashem grant him special powers that no other creature possesses? Man has the powers of speech and intellect, and he has dominion over all the creations of the world. Hashem granted man these powers for a reason – so that he should exercise his intellect to recognize that he is a created being, the work of the One who created and maintains the existence of every object and being in the universe, and that the Creator created him, the premier of all creations, in order to serve Him and thereby connect himself to Him. Man’s task is to toil in the service of Hashem, with every deed that he does – every exercise of his physical or intellectual capabilities, every moment of his sojourn in this world – weighed in the scales of justice and morality, in accordance with the mission with which Hashem charged him.
Each person has his own mission, matched to the nature of his soul, and this mission is his lot in life, to perform his duty in this world and receive reward in the next world. Hashem put at man’s disposal a world full of blessing, enabling him to eat to satiation and clothe himself in honorable garb, so that with his service to Him, man may bring perfection to all of Creation, with everything it contains, and maintains it in existence. In this vein, the Mishnah in Avos 5:1 teaches that Hashem created the world with ten sayings in order to grant reward to the righteous who maintain the existence of the world that was created with ten sayings. Hashem takes no satisfaction in the strength of the horse or the swiftness of the deer; He takes satisfaction solely in those who fear Him and are anxious to carry out His will – as the Gemara in Berachos 33b says, “the Holy One Blessed Be He has nothing in His world except for a treasure of fear of Heaven.”
So each of us must cast his eyes upward and gaze at the heavens above, behold the heights of the heavens and the depths of the earth, and reflect on the purpose of it all. The entirety of Creation is meant for man, the premier of all creations, to use as a resource in serving Hashem. Man, although the last to be created, was the creation that Hashem first had in mind when He set out to create the world (סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה). How, then, can we allow ourselves to run loose and negate Hashem’s intent in creating us? How can we harden our hearts and keep ourselves from fearing Hashem? How can we refrain from carrying out the work Hashem assigned us, and detach and distance ourselves from Him? What will be of us in the end? How will we answer our Creator when He seeks an accounting from us and says to us: “Why did you rebel against Me? Behold, I prepared all the good of the world just for you. Why did you turn to evil deeds, and disdain the mission with which I charged you? What wrong did you see, that you distanced yourself from Me? And, when you rebelled against Me and cast Me aside, to what did you turn instead? What did you set your eyes on during your sojourn in the world? What did you spend all your days doing? For what did you abandon good, and cast Me over your shoulder?”
What happened to our wisdom, that we forgot our Creator? Woe to us in the end, when we see the accounting of our deeds, and all our hidden thoughts, in all their detail, are laid out before us. The righteous will sit with their crowns on their heads, beholding all their good deeds and enjoying their reward, and we will be sitting alongside them. They will rejoice with a glad heart, and we will cry out in pain. They will revel in Hashem’s greatness, and we will be struck with fright before Hashem’s wrath. The righteous will celebrate the downfall of the wicked, as it is written [the last verse in our haftarah]: “They will go out and see the corpses of the men who rebelled against Me, for decay shall not cease and their fire will not be extinguished, and they will lie in disgrace before all mankind.”
When we take all this to heart, we will be struck with fear. We will say: “What am I, that I should cast off the yoke of service to my Master? Woe to the servant who disdains serving his Master!” And we will incline our shoulder to what Hashem has placed upon us, and we will be like an ox bearing its yoke and a donkey bearing its bundle. We will subjugate ourselves and all our powers to the service of our Creator, who holds in His hand all the good of this world, and stretches His hand forth to grant good to His chosen ones who are faithful to His covenant.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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