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G-d destroyed our Temple, His Temple.

G-d permitted the nations of Bavel and Rome to decimate Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash, killing and enslaving millions of Jews in doing so.


G-d was angry with us.

But this week’s haftarah says that His anger won’t last forever.

The haftarah is very short this week – only ten pesukim.

But these ten verses contain a power-packed message.

The Navi Yeshaya fulfills the role of comforter, telling us of the amazing times we will yet experience when we are redeemed and Moshiach comes. This is why this section of Nevi’im was chosen by Chazal to be one of the “sheva d’nechemta,” one of the seven haftoros after Tisha B’Av whose purpose is to console us after the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash.

Sefer Binah L’Itim (Volume 2, page 174) explains that this week’s haftarah is meant to part of a sevenfold group of haftoros which directly counteract the menacing haftoros which are read during the Three Weeks, and especially that of Shabbos Chazon, read on the Shabbos before Tisha B’Av. There are three weeks of haftoros of puraniyos, bad tidings, but there are more than double that number, seven, of haftoros which comfort and tell of good events to come.

The sefer continues to describe the specifics of how this week’s haftarah is a response to the haftarah read on Shabbos Chazon. There the Navi laments that Bnei Yisrael have abandoned G-d even after He raised them as His own children and relates that Hashem will no longer listen to our prayers (see Yeshaya 1:2 and 1:15). This week, the Navi (Yeshava 54:8) says that Hashem’s anger is unleashed only for a moment, but He will show us eternal kindness and mercy. Of course, this “short amount of time” has already lasted over 1,900 years, but 1,900 years in the context of eternity is but a brief moment.

At the end of the haftarah, the Navi states that just as Hashem saved Noach at the time of the Flood and established a covenant with him that He would never again destroy the world, so too He will not unleash His fury or rebuke against us. Rav Dovid Feinstein explains the connection by saying that just as the world will never again be destroyed, so, too, once Klal Yisrael returns to the Land of Israel during the times of Moshiach, they will never again be exiled.

We can suggest another connection to Noach in the following way. Just as Noach established and created a certain merit for himself when being saved, so too Bnei Yisrael need to do the same in order to be redeemed.

The Rambam (Hilchos De’os 6:1) states:

“The nature of man is to be pulled… after his friends, and to adjust to the customs of the people of his country. Therefore, one has to associate with righteous people and to sit always among learned people, so that one will learn from their actions. One should distance oneself from wicked people, who go in darkness, so that one will not learn from their actions… Similarly, if one is in a country where there are bad customs and whose citizens do not follow the straight path, then one should go to a place whose citizens are righteous and who have good customs. If one hears about every country that one knows that it has bad customs, or if, for reasons of travel, one is unable to move to a country with good customs, then one should live alone… If there are bad people and sinners around who will not leave someone alone unless one mixes with them and follows their bad customs, then he should go and live in a cave, or amongst the bushes, or in the wilderness, and not accustom oneself to the ways of sinners.”

Rav Yaakov Hopfer tells a story (cited in Sefer HaChevra V’Hashpa’asah, page 210) that took place during the only trip the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum took to Eretz Yisrael after World War II. The Rebbe met with the Chazon Ish and, during their conversation, Rav Yoel lamented that with the immorality and evil spreading throughout the world, it is so hard to fulfill the Rambam’s dictate to live in a virtuous environment. He wondered if we were left with no choice but to run to the caves and live a primitive life. There seemed to be nowhere to go to escape the world’s horrible influences.

The Chazon Ish replied that there is still one place to go in order to escape the negative and immoral sway of the world and fulfill the Rambam – the yeshivos. As the Chazon Ish put it, “We must build noch a yeshiva, noch a yeshiva and noch a yeshiva – we have to build more and more yeshivos.” The Chazon Ish was saying that the holy power of Torah learning could ward off any power that exists in the negative forces that permeate society.

Rav Hopfer uses the Chazon Ish’s comment to explain why G-d instructed Noach to build a teivah. Couldn’t Hashem have saved him in some other, less complex way? Why couldn’t Noach be told to run to the highest mountain top, settle there, and Hashem would prevent the water from reaching the settlement? Why bring Noach’s salvation in the manner of a teivah floating on top of the water? Rav Hopfer explained that in order for Noach to survive, he had to escape to a place totally removed from the evil of the generation of the flood. It wasn’t enough to run to a mountain top. Noach had to be completely protected and insulated from any of the spiritual pollution through the sanctity of the teivah’s walls of protection.

There is yet another connection between Noach and Klal Yisrael’s ultimate redemption.

The Nesivos Shalom wonders why the story of the mabul contains so many details: exactly when the rain began, when it stopped, and when various stages of the drying of the land occurred. In addition, the Torah tells us the exact measurements of the teivah and the details of how Noach entered and exited. Why must we know all of these specifics? There are many events in Jewish history for which we are not given all the details. Wouldn’t it have been enough here just to give us the basic story? Why does the Torah spend so many pesukim describing the construction of the teivah, the mabul, and its aftermath?


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Rabbi Boruch Leff is a rebbe in Baltimore and the author of six books. He wrote the “Haftorah Happenings” column in The Jewish Press for many years. He can be reached at [email protected].