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Bemidbar 5770

Parshat Bemidbar
(Hosea 2:1 – 22)
May 15, 2010
2 Sivan 5770

Hosea\’s message, in this week\’s haftarah, anticipates a more idyllic age: \”In that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword and war from the land. Thus I will let them lie down in safety.\” (verse 20 ) This verse is reminiscent of a more famous counterpart in Isaiah: \”The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf the beast of prey and the fatling together, with the little boy to herd them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion, like the ox shall eat straw.\” (11:6)

Both of these verses paint a utopian picture where all of God\’s creatures will dwell together in peace and harmony. In rabbinic times, there were sages who wanted to create a comprehensive picture of what God\’s redeemed world might look like. In order to construct this vision, they looked to the biblical tradition for clues. Here is an example of their handiwork:

We find ten things which the Holy One, blessed be He, will renew in the Time to Come. The first is that He will illuminate the whole world, for it says: The sun shall be no more thy light by day . . . but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light (Isa. 60:19). Is there a man able to look at God? But what will God do to the sun ? He will make it give forty-nine times as much light, as it says: And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold (ib.30:26).\’ When a man shall be sick, God will order the sun to heal him; as it says: But for you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings (Mal. 3:20). The second thing is that He will bring out living water from Jerusalem and heal with it all those who have a disease, as it says: Every living creature wherewith it swarms, where the rivers comes, shall live ;. . . for these waters are come here, that all things be healed (Ezek. 47:9). The third is that He will make trees yield their fruit each month, and when a man eats of them he will be healed, for it says: And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, . . . it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters issue out of the sanctuary ; and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for healing (ib. 12). The fourth is that they will rebuild all the destroyed cities so that not a single place will remain destroyed; even Sodom and Gomorrah will be rebuilt in the Time to Come, as it says, And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate (ib. 16:55). The fifth is that He will rebuild Jerusalem with sapphire stones, as it says: Behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors. .. And I will make your pinnacles of rubies (Isa. 54:11-12). These precious stones will shine like the sun, and the heathens will come and see the glory of Israel, as it is said: And nations shall walk at thy light (ib. 53:3). The sixth is that The cow and bear shall feed (ib. xi, 7).\’ The seventh is that He will bring all the wild beasts, birds and creeping things and make a covenant with them and with all Israel, for it says: In that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air (from this week\’s haftarah). The eighth is that there will be no more weeping or wailing in the world, for it says: And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying (Isa. 65:19). The ninth is that there will be no more death in the world, for it says: He will swallow up death for ever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away (ib. 25:8). The tenth is that there will no longer be any sighing, wailing or anguish, but that all will be rejoicing, for it says: And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion (ib. 35:10). (adapted from Ex. Rabbah 15:21)

However improvised this idyllic picture may be, we look forward to helping God bring it to fruition so that God\’s world will clearly be established on earth.

About This Commentary

This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in  Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva.  He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem offers students of all backgrounds the skills for studying Jewish texts. We are a vibrant, open-minded egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn, practise and grow together. Our goal is to provide students the ability and desire to continue Jewish learning and practice throughout their lives. Rashei Yeshiva: Rabbi Joel Levy & Dr. Joshua Kulp. Rabbi Joel Roth, Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus .  Sponsors – The Conservative Yeshiva would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Haftarah Commentary:

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