‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion’


The haftorah for this week’s parashat, Beha’alotecha, begins with Zechariah’s famous words, “rani v’simchi bat Zion (Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion),” and continues with the following pasukim: “For, behold! I will come and dwell in your midst, says the L-rd. And many nations shall join the L-rd on that day, and they shall be My people; and I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the L-rd of Hosts sent me to you. And the L-rd shall inherit Yehudah as His share on the Holy Land, and He shall again choose Yerushalayim.” (2:14-16)

According to the Radak, our pasuk is referring to the messianic era, when “v’nilvu goyim rabim el Hashem ba’yom hahu v’hayhu li l’am (And many nations shall join the L-rd on that day, and they shall be My people).”

This position is also maintained by the Abarbanel, who uses this interpretation as a springboard to differentiate between the temporary and incomplete redemption symbolized by the rebuilding of the Second Beit HaMikdash, and the geulah he’atida (complete future redemption) for which we all long: “Do not think that the geulah he’atida will be like the period of the Second Beit HaMikdash — this will not be the case. For the geulah he’atida will not be contingent upon the whims of people, such as Koresh or Darius the King of Persia; instead, I, Hashem, will come to you [and help you to create the Third Beit HaMikdash]. Moreover, during the Second Beit HaMikdash, My Shechinah did not come down, nor was there any prophecy. In the geulah he’atida, however, I will come and be present therein as in times past. (Commentary on Zechariah 2:14)

In his work on our pasukim, “Chomat Anach,” the Chida notes that the first letter of each word in our phrase, “rani v’simchi bat Zion,” when read in reverse spells tzibur (tzadi-bet-vav-raysh), which means community. This analysis leads the Chida to suggest another key difference that will obtain between the Second and Third Beit HaMikdash: “And it is possible to suggest that the geulah [he’atida] is contingent on when the Jewish people will [finally] be unified (b’achdut) … for, as we know, the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash took place as a result of sinat chinam (baseless hatred); and how is it possible, therefore, for there to be the geulah [he’atida] during the time of sinat chinam? As such, the words, rani v’simchi are stated in the singular, representative of the time when the entire nation will be in achdut.”

For the Chida, achdut is the antithesis of sinat chinam and a crucial component in achieving the geulah he’atida. Fortunately, there is a strong countermeasure to the pernicious sin of sinat chinam. Rabbi Yitzhak Avraham Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate, offers us a valuable insight. He proposes ahavat Yisrael (unconditional love for the Jewish people) as the antidote for sinat chinam.

Rav Kook poetically conceptualizes it: “Listen to me, my people! I speak to you from my soul, from within my innermost soul. I call out to you from the living connection by which I am bound to all of you, and by which all of you are bound to me. I feel this more deeply than any other feeling: That only you, all of you, all of your souls, throughout all of your generations, you alone are the meaning of my life. In you I live. In the aggregation of all of you, my life has that content that is called life.” (Shemonah Kevatzim 1:163)

Little wonder, then, that for Rav Kook, the opposite of sinat chinam was not ahavat chinam, baseless love. In his worldview, such a concept simply did not exist. Rather, this great and holy soul considered every Jew, by definition, to be worthy of love and respect. As such, he is famous for the following powerful statement: “There is no such thing as ahavat chinam (groundless love). Why groundless? He is a Jew, and I am obligated to love and respect him. There is only sinat chinam, but ahavat chinam? Never!”

May the time come soon when the groundswell of ahavat Yisrael will nullify the sinat chinam of our age. Then, as we experience the achdut that will enable the geulah he’atida to be realized, may we sing as one: “Rani v’simchi bat Zion!”

V’chane yihi ratzon.