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This week’s haftara at first glance appears to be another rebuke in the spirit of the preceding weeks. Abarbanel notes that most of the medieval commentators read it that way and find support in the Midrash. But Abarbanel repudiates this approach, insisting that actually something beautiful and inspiring is being revealed in our haftara.

In the previous chapter, we saw how Hoshea struggled with a wife as unfaithful to him as the Jewish people have been to Hashem. In our haftara she is returning to his embrace, and so is Israel to Hashem’s. Abarbanel understands these opening stanzas from Sefer Hoshea as anticipating all of the cycles of exile and redemption that lie in store for millennia to come. The opening verses of the haftara are describing the final redemption at the end of this long exile that he and we have languished under.


One thing that distinguishes the final redemption is the fact that all of Israel and Yehuda will be reunited at that time. From Bavel, only the tribes of Yehuda, Binyamin, Levi, and fragments of other tribes returned. The land was rebuilt as the kingdom of Yehuda, and its inhabitants and their descendants were Judeans, or the Jews. Prior to the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash and the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Yisrael, there was much ill will and feuding between Yehuda and Yisrael. The final redemption will not only bring Israel out of servitude, restore the land, and liberate the human race from sickness and misfortune, it will also reconcile the feuding siblings – Yehuda and Yisrael.

Abarbanel says that the Children of Israel are not compared to grains of sand simply because they are so many. Lots of things occur in great numbers but Israel isn’t compared to them. Indeed, for all intents and purposes the number of the grains of sand is a decidedly finite and discernible integer – it is a number that could be counted. The significance of the grains of sand derives from the fact that they are each distinct entities with a tendency to dissipate and to separate. The sand achieves its form by virtue of the water that suffuses it, binding all of the individual grains to one another and providing the entire mass with its own identifiable structure. The grains of sand become the sand, the beach, the coast when they are joined by water.

So too Israel will, as the waves of final redemption begin to break over the earth, be joined by the water of Torah and of faith in Hashem. All of the individuals who are to be redeemed come representing different paths and perspectives by which they survived the long exile. Many will have been antagonists before the redemption, as Yehuda and Yisrael once feuded. But in the tide of redemption we are all one.

Not only this regarding the masses of the Children of Israel who will return to Tzion and be redeemed, but each individual will see in his fellow a companion a participant in a shared destiny. Therefore, the navi (referencing the theme of his children once spurned with their mother) says of the sons that they should call their brothers “Ami, my nation. The daughters will be called “Ruchama,” treated with compassion. (Hoshea 2:3). In previous returns from exile and in prior stages of the return from exile, the brothers and sisters had fought one another fiercely and even denied the role of the other in the communal life of Israel. However, Abarbanel teaches, in the final redemption, which will be the conclusion of all exiles, all of the brothers and the sisters will learn to revere and to embrace one another in their differences.

Thus, one child or Israel will behold a child of Yehuda and declare this is the son of my nation – we are the same people, subjects of the same king, and servants of the same master.

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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].