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Out of Exile

by Rabbi Myer Kripke

Our Sidrah is one of the most exciting and joyous parts of Deuteronomy, indeed, the whole Pentateuch.

Deutero-Isaiah, one of the world’s greatest poets in human literature, offers his compatriots an exciting picture of what will happen when they return to Israel after the years of Babylonian exile.

Like the Prophets who came before him, the poet may be overexcited. The return of the exiles found much less joy than the Prophet promised. There were all sorts of difficulties in trying to establish a new commonwealth.

But one is obliged to try to understand what might have happened. If the people had not had all this exciting reassurance, they might have given up in the face of difficulty, when so much had been destroyed.

The reassurance they received from the Prophets was stimulating and exciting; they did not hesitate to make their way back to Israel.

More important than anything is the assurance of the Prophets that among those who welcomed the people back was the Lord Himself. Furthermore, as some commentators have suggested, at the center of this new world is not only hope for Israel, but for all of humanity.

One more remark: the reader of these hopeful thoughts should not neglect the Haftarot of Sidrah KiTeitzei and the following weeks. They capture the excited hope of the Prophets very well.