Shake off the Dust

The final redemption, when Am Yisrael will be fully redeemed from exile, will take place in the month of Nissan. (Rosh Hashana 11b)  Yeshaya was the foremost prophet to discuss the days of Mashiach. Indeed, Yeshaya himself was known as “the prophet of comfort”, (Baba Basra 14b) as the entire world will perceive Hashem’s greatness, and the grandeur of His people. The world, both on a communal level and on an individual level, will be comforted by seeing how everything that Hashem had done throughout world history was completely and totally good. (Pesachim 50a)

In the story of ‘The Sad Tzaddik’ told by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a tzaddik had fallen into depression and despair due to the worst sins a person can perform in one’s lifetime. Whenever he tried to strengthen himself with the mitzvot he performed, invariably he would find holes in them. However, when the tzaddik started to revel in the simple fact that he was created a Jew, he emerged from his depression and felt exalted by his lofty position, simply being a Jew.

If a person were to reflect on many of the mitzvot that he had performed, he would quickly see flaws in them. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains the main source of a person’s happiness comes from the simple fact that he is a Jew. All mitzvot may have been performed with ulterior or impure motives, and flaws can be discovered, but the very fact that one is a Jew is something that was chosen by Hashem.  Due to our lack of choice in the matter, Hashem’s granting us a Jewish neshama is a gratuitous act and something in which we should revel.

Yeshaya Perek 26 is written in song form as it is the song Yisrael will sing after the war of Gog uMagog. Yeshaya prays for peace and redemption as the nation has already been punished for their sins. The suffering they had faced had been enough.

“Am Yisrael remembered You, Hashem, in the most difficult of circumstances. Like a pregnant women giving birth, the nation has called out to You, Hashem. But it seemed as if you didn’t answer.”

How many of us feel broken? How many of us feel like we’ve prayed to no avail, as if Hashem had not heard our prayers? Many people suffer from both emotional and physical pain. What has Hashem done with all of those prayers throughout the long night of exile?

Yeshaya then asks Hashem for the ultimate consolation, T’chiyat Hameitim:

 “May Your dead be revived and Your carcass rise! Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust, for your dew is like dew on fresh growth! (ibid:19)

On this, the Radak adds: “At the time of the great salvation, Hashem will cause the tzadikim to be revived from the dead – tzadikim, and not resha’im.”

What does that mean for us, average people who don’t feel like tzadikim? Are we going to be abandoned by Hashem, left to suffer with all our struggles?

The Ramad Walli goes a step deeper:

“…We don’t only need to mention the tzadikim. The resha’im, empty-headed members of Yisrael, will also be revived from the dead, because even they are ‘filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate’. We know that tzadikim, even after they die, are considered alive and therefore their bodies don’t decompose in their graves. The tzadikim will just awaken like someone who was sleeping, as if they had never died. But even the resha’im, ‘who dwell in the dust’, whose bodies had undergone the rectification of decomposition, will also be revived from the dead. The resha’im only became sinful because they became despondent. (Teshuat Olamim on Yeshaya 26:19).”

Thus when Mashiach comes Hashem will reveal His tremendous love for each and every single member of the Jewish nation, regardless of what he may have done during his lifetime. Hashem’s love for the Jewish nation defies logic, as it is an intrinsic love. Only a love that is not dependent on external factors is considered true love (Pirkei Avot 5:16 ). Hashem’s love for each and every single member of Klal Yisrael transcends rhyme and reason.

This should be a great source of encouragement for each and every single one of us to never give up no matter what we may be struggling with. The Ibn Ezra explains that ‘you who dwell in dust’ (Yeshaya 26:19) is referring to the ones who feel the furthest from Hashem.  They will feel a tremendous resurgence to serve Hashem. Hashem will lift them out of their pain, suffering and iniquity at the time of t’chiyat hamaitim.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov related that bringing a dead corpse back to life is a minor miracle compared to the miracle of bringing a living person, who feels as if he is dead, back to life!

The Alshich Hakadosh explains that when Mashiach will come, Yisrael will revert to its original status. The greatness of Yisrael will be so apparent that even the angels will be baffled by Yisrael’s greatness. The difference between Yisrael and Hashem will be almost indistinguishable! (Alshich on Yeshaya 24:23).

This year may we merit seeing Mashiach when “Hashem will end death forever. Hashem will wipe away the tears from Yisrael’s faces. And Hashem will end the shame of Am Yisrael forever,” (Yeshaya 25:8)”