Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This is the fourth Shabbat of consolation and now we have also entered the month of Elul, as we count down the weeks and days until Rosh Hashana. Sefardim have begun reciting Selichot, and in every shul we are blowing the shofar and reciting Psalm 27, “Of David, Hashem is my light and my salvation.” This week’s haftara provides much of the poetry to Samuel Alkabetz’s immortal liturgical composition, Lecha Dodi, including the phrase from Yeshayahu (52:2) that is the title of this column. In Maamar HaGeulah, Ramchal uses this to introduce the mechanisms for reversing the corruptions of exile that we delved into in last week’s column.

As we saw last week, the Divine Presence, known as the Shechina, is compelled to suffer with us when we are dislodged from our natural position in our home, existing in service of Hashem. We saw how Ramchal described the Shechina’s “retraction” from our plane of existence, but here as we discuss the beginning of redemption, the emphasis is upon the Shechina’s disgrace that is a consequence of the mortification of Israel. For, as he explains, during exile the righteous of Israel are humiliated and tormented, but they are also forced to undergo spiritual affliction as their hope for salvation is consistently frustrated. When the balance of light and darkness finally begins to be restored in the course of the return of redemption to the universe, along with the tzaddikim the Shechina is one of the first to experience this change. She is addressed by the navi as she is rising out of the “dust” of exile, shaking herself off in anticipation of the return to Yerushalayim.


This process is beautifully described by Ramchal in light of several passages taken from Shir HaShirim. He interprets in this light the verses (from Chapter 5) that describe the beloved waking in the night (of exile) to find her lost love, seeking her but unable to find her. The Shechina longs to be embraced by the righteous of Israel but she says, in a verse we typically read in the melody of Eicha, “I have taken off my dress, how shall I now clothe myself?” (Ibid. 5:3). But the lovers cannot be united until the King, Master of the Universe, has decreed that it may be so and lowered the barriers separating us – until He has “thrust His hand through the hole” (Ibid. 5:4).

This exploitation of the “hole” in Creation to introduce the power of redemption ties into the theme we touched upon last week, of the lights intended to sustain us in exile and those whose purpose is to lead us out of exile. At the conclusion of our haftara the navi says, “You will not be hurried out [of exile]” (Yeshayahu 52:12). This is a pronounced contrast with the frantic “hurry” of our departure from Egypt. Until now, as we have seen, Ramchal has compared the final redemption with the redemption from Egypt in order to better understand the processes at work. But this is the first qualitative difference that is not merely a difference of degree between these two instances.

When Israel fled Egypt, our redemption was not complete and neither was the destruction of the evil that had enslaved us. We had to run for our lives before Pharaoh changed his mind – as of course we know he did before we could reach the Red Sea. We remained at risk of being returned to our state of subjugation and separation from the Divine Mercy, and that risk remains today – until the final redemption frees us from it. When Hashem redeems us from our final exile, He will also destroy the very possibility of the evil that has enslaved us, and we and the Shechina will be restored to our proper glory and also able to revel in our presence together and in the radiance of unimpeded Divine Mercy.

When Israel is redeemed at last, and by extension the Shechina herself, all of the lost fragments of Israel will be rejoined as the exiles are gathered and the lost in Ashur and the wandering in Mitzrayim return home. In the same way, the lost sparks of holiness and everything that is good and holy that had been scattered throughout the world will be rejoined with and reintegrated in the Shechina, and with her the Name of Hashem will be one and everything will be understood as it is unified under this one prevailing truth.

Says the Ramchal: “It becomes evident that this itself is the essence of that which is good and proper: Everything proceeds from one stage to the next until it all leads to this point.” Which means the final integration of all that had been fragmented under the Shechina and as inseparable aspects of the unity of the Name of Hashem.


Previous articlePalestinians: PM Shtayyeh’s Straight-Faced Lies to Official US Delegations
Next articleHaredim Want the 2021 Bibi-Gantz IDF Draft Framework
Avraham Levitt is a poet and philosopher living in Philadelphia. He writes chiefly about Jewish art and mysticism. His most recent poem is called “Great Floods Cannot Extinguish the Love.” It can be read at He can be reached by email at [email protected].