As the sixth of the seven Haftarot of Consolation, the Haftarah of Ki Tavo describes an advanced stage of Redemption. Unlike earlier stages, which are called by Chazal, “עתיד לבא”, “the Future”, this stage is called “עולם הבא”, “the World to Come”. Some of what we know about the World to Come is learned from a verse in this Haftarah:
כל ישראל יש להם חלק לעולם הבא שנאמר (ישעיה ס’) ועמך כולם צדיקים לעולם יירשו ארץ נצר מטעי מעשי ידי להתפאר
All of the Jewish People have a share in the World to Come, as it says, (Yeshayahu 60:21): “Your nation will all be righteous, forever they will inherit the land; the blossoms that I planted, My handiwork, in which I glory.”
(Mishna Sanhedrin 10:1)
Surprisingly, even though we learn from the Haftarah that all of the Jewish People will be righteous and have a share in the World to Come, a very small portion of its text describes the Jewish People and how righteous they are. The bulk of the Haftarah talks about the Nations of the World and their desire to contribute toward our Redemption. For instance, the Haftarah talks about the rebuilding of the Temple. We might have thought that it would describe how the Jewish People all contribute toward building it, just as the Torah describes the donations that were used to build the Mishkan in the desert. Instead, it says the following:
כָּל צֹאן קֵדָר יִקָּבְצוּ לָךְ אֵילֵי נְבָיוֹת יְשָׁרְתוּנֶךְ יַעֲלוּ עַל רָצוֹן מִזְבְּחִי וּבֵית תִּפְאַרְתִּי אֲפָאֵר…
כִּי לִי אִיִּים יְקַוּוּ וָאֳנִיּוֹת … כַּסְפָּם וּזְהָבָם אִתָּם לְשֵׁם ה’ אֱ-לֹהַיִךְ וְלִקְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי פֵאֲרָךְ…
כְּבוֹד הַלְּבָנוֹן אֵלַיִךְ יָבוֹא בְּרוֹשׁ תִּדְהָר וּתְאַשּׁוּר יַחְדָּו לְפָאֵר מְקוֹם מִקְדָּשִׁי וּמְקוֹם רַגְלַי אֲכַבֵּד
All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered to you, the rams of Nevayot, in your service, to be brought willingly at My altar, the House of My glory, I will make glorious….
To Me the islands gather…their silver and gold with them, in the Name of Hashem, your G-d, for the Holy One of Israel, who makes you glorious…..
The best of the forests of Lebanon will come to you, fir trees, pine trees, and boxwood, all together, to make glorious the place of My Temple, and the place of My abode I will make honored. (Yeshayahu 60:7,13)
According to these verses, it will not be the Jewish people who build the Temple. It will be the Nations of the World who contribute both money and raw materials toward its construction, with the goal of making it outstandingly beautiful and glorious.
Even when it talks about our achievements during that era, the Haftarah phrases them in terms of how they look to the Nations of the World:
וְקָרָאת יְשׁוּעָה חוֹמֹתַיִךְ וּשְׁעָרַיִךְ תְּהִלָּה
Your justice system will be called salvation, and your courts, a source of praise. (Yeshayahu 60:18)
Usually, the prophets describe the courts of the Jewish People as just and righteous. Here, the Haftarah describes them as being praised throughout the world.
The implication is that the World To Come is not about us and what we do. Instead, it is about what we project to others. It is all about the praise and the glory.
In Parshat Ki Tavo, we read a handful of verses can be easily overlooked, as they do not appear to tell us anything that we haven’t heard before:
וַה’ הֶאֱמִירְךָ הַיּוֹם לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְעַם סְגֻלָּה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לָךְ וְלִשְׁמֹר כָּל מִצְוֹתָיו:
וּלְתִתְּךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לִתְהִלָּה וּלְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאָרֶת וְלִהְיֹתְךָ עַם קָדֹשׁ לַה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר
Hashem has committed you today to be for Him a unique nation, as He has told you, and to keep all His commandments. And to place you supreme among all the nations that He has made, for praise, for the Name, and for glory, and for you to become a nation holy to Hashem your G-d, as He has told you. (Devarim 26:18,19)
It begins with our familiar mission statement: to be G-d’s people and keep His commandments. Then, it lays out the objective of our mission: praise, reputation (“Name”), and glory.
It is not enough to just be holy, just to keep G-d’s commandments. It is not meaningful to be G-d’s representatives on Earth if nobody is aware that this is what you are doing . If people don’t see what it is like to have G-d’s Presence among human beings, then they will never believe that it is possible. If G-d’s light is hidden from them, then they will never aim to share in it. Therefore, in order to fulfil the purpose of the Torah, the entire world must be aware of the holiness that it creates in the Jewish People. There needs to be praise and glory.
The Haftarah tells us that the World to Come will be a time when the actions of the Jewish People are not only consistent with G-d’s will, but they are also understood by all to be G-d’s will. The relationship between G-d and the Jewish People will be so strong, so palpable, so visible, that it will inspire universal admiration and emulation, fulfilling the mission as stated in the Parsha. The Nations of the World will wish to be a part of the glory, they will wish to contribute to the Temple and to the connection with G-d that it represents, and G-d will welcome their participation.
All of the Jewish People have a portion in the World to Come. According to the Haftarah, the World to Come is not limited to the Jewish People; it has enough portions for the entire world.
Copyright © Kira Sirote
In memory of my father, Peter Rozenberg, z”l
לעילוי נשמת אבי מורי פנחס בן נתן נטע ז”ל