I4This haftarah is the third prophecy in the cycle of seven Haftarot of Consolation, read sequentially during the seven Sabbaths that follow Tisha B’Av.

The previous week, God has reassured disconsolate Zion that He will remember her. In this week’s consolation, He adds the assurances of repopulation, piety, and peace. That is, though Zion is initially called “uncomforted” ( lo nuhamah) (54;11), in accord with the state of desolation so frequently mentioned in the Book of Lamentations (Lam. 1:2,9,16,21), that situation has ended by this time. The rest of the haftarah focuses on the comfort that is to emerge. No longer will hunger and thirst dominate the people’s psyche (Lam. 1:19; 2:11-12,20; 4:10); for now, water and food will be available in full measure. Moreover, the people are urged to satisfy a less tangible need: spiritual hunger.  The prophet encourages the people with God’s invitation to them: “Incline your ear and come to Me; hearken, and you shall be revived” (Isa. 55:3).


In this haftarah, Isaiah focuses his words of consolation on the children. All of the children living in Jerusalem, or perhaps all of the Children of Israel living in the Land of Israel, will be the students of God.  That is, all will know His Torah and stand loyal to His mitzvot. They therefore will have great peace and success.

And all your children shall be disciples of the Lord.

And great shall be the happiness of your children

You shall be established through righteousness,

You shall be safe from oppression,

And shall have no fear. (13-14)

This note of prophecy is in consonance with the words of the Torah: “If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments…I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country” (Lev 26:3-6)


A classic midrash, incorporated into the prayer book, expounds upon Isaiah’s words:

  1. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: The disciples of the wise increase peace in the world, as it says, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Read not banayikh [thy children], but bonayikh [thy builders]. Great peace have they who love Thy law, and there is no stumbling for them. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces…. ( Berachot 64a)

Your sons – “banayikh” – will become the builders – bonayikh – and they will increase peace in the world through their study and implementation of Torah.

But how does the notion of peace correlate with all your sons learning Torah? The following Midrash offers us an explanation:

“God said when I gave them the Torah “on that day” (atSinai) individuals delved into it assiduously. But in the next world I will teach all of Israel and they shall not forget the Torah as it says (Jer.31:31,32) “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,when I will make a newcovenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
.I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,and they will be my people.” Moreover, I will increase peace among them, as  Isaiah says,
“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:13) (Tanchuma Buber Yitro 13)

Envisioning a time when God himself will teach us Torah is mind boggeling. It stands to reason that such Torah will bring us inner peace.

Once, when God initiated His covenant with us, He inscribed His holy words in letters of fire on tablets of stone. But in the fullness of time He offers to inscribe His words directly on the chambers of our hearts. All we need to do is to let them in.


Ho, all those who are thirsty,

Come for water

Even if you have no money,

Come buy food and eat…

Incline your ear and come to Me…

Hearken, and you shall be revived. (55:1-3)

This passage is in our haftarah isexplained by Laura Suzanne Lieber, in her Study Guide to the JPS Bible Commentrary: Haftarot.  She says that the statement, “Ho, all who are thirsty come for water,” is traditionally understood to refer to Torah. The Torah is considered the “water of life” (Song of Songs Rabbah 1:10; Berakhot 56b).  Moreover, this motif is found in the words of Isaiah’s contemporary Amos, as well: “I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). Thus, the prophets recognize that the people hunger and thirst for more than physical nutriments, but also for spiritual sustenance as well.

Interestingly, the Rabbis take this parallel a step further, using it to govern the establishment of the weekly Torah schedule.  Extrapolating from the human need for water regularly, the Torah was to be ready publicly on Mondays, Thursdays, and the Sabbath (Saturdays).  That is, the biblical verse recounts that the people traveled for three days in the wilderness without finding water – putting them in danger of dying of thirst.  The Sages interpret this verse on the basis of the principle that water symbolizes Torah, and therefore the Jewish people should not experience three days without connection to the Torah, lest they “die” of spiritual drought (b. Baba Kamma 82a).


Learning Torah is a privilege. It was not one always granted to the people of Israel. There were times in our history when we were banned from learning and teaching Torah. One of those times was during the Hadrianic persecutions (132-135 C.E.) – the times of Rabbi Akiva. Despite the edict he could not stop. For him to cease and desist was to be a fish out of water: The gemara in Berachot (61b) recounts the following tale.

Our Rabbis taught: Once the wicked Government issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practise the Torah. Pappus b. Judah came and found R. Akiba publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with the Torah. He said to him: Akiba, are you not afraid of the Government? He replied: I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fishes going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors? They replied: Art thou the one that they call the cleverest of animals? Thou art not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more in the element in which we would die! So it is with us. If such is our condition when we sit and study the Torah, of which it is written, For that is thy life and the length of thy days, if we go and neglect it how much worse off we shall be! It is related that soon afterwards R. Akiba was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus b. Judah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him. He said to him: Pappus, who brought you here? He replied: Happy are you, R. Akiba, that you have been seized for busying yourself with the Torah! Alas for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things!

When R. Akiba was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of the Shema’, and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of heaven. His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, ‘with all thy soul’, [which I interpret,] ‘even if He takes thy soul’. I said: When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfil it? He prolonged the word ehad =one Hear O Israel the Lord Your God, the Lord is One). until he expired while saying

יג] בחדשTanhuma Buber Yitro 13

השלישי. למה בחודש תאומים, שלא יהא פתחון פה לאומות העולם, אילו נתן לנו את התורה היינו מקיימין אותה, אמר להם הקב״ה ראו באיזה חודש נתתי את התורה, במזל תאומים, שאם יבא עשו הרשע להתגייר יבא וילמד תורה, לפיכך נתנה תורה בתאומים. ביום הזה באו מדבר סיני, כי ביום הזה באו, אלא כשתהא לומד, אל יהו בעיניך ישנים, אלא כאילו היום הזה ניתנה, ביום ההוא אין כתיב כאן, אלא ביום הזה, אמר להם הקב״ה ביום הזה נתתי להם את התורה והיו יגעים בה יחידים, אבל לעולם הבא אני מלמדה לכל ישראל ואינן שוכחין אותה, שנאמר (זאת התורה) כי זאת הברית אשר אכרות את בית ישראל, אחרי הימים (ההמה) [ההם] נאום ה׳ [נתתי את תורתי בקרבם ועל לבם אכתבנה] (ירמיה לא לב), ולא עוד אלא שאני מרבה את השלום ביניהם, אמר ישעיה וכל בניך למודי ה׳ ורב שלום בניך (ישעיה נד יג).

Devarim rabbah 6:14

לע״ל לעתיד לבוא שאני עוקר יצר הרע מביניכם שנא׳ (ירמיה לא) והסירותי את לב האבן מבשרכם אני מחזיר שכינתי ביניכם מנין שנאמר (יואל ד) והיה אחרי כן אשפוך את רוחי על כל בשר וגו׳ ומתוך שאני משרה שכינתי עליכם כולכם זוכין לתורה ויושבין בשלום בעולם שנאמר (ישעיה נד) וכל בניך למודי ה׳ ורב שלום בניך.

Tanhuma vayigash 12:

א״ל הקב״ה אתה למדת את בניך תורה בעולם הזה, ולעולם הבא אני בכבודי אלמדם את התורה, שנאמר וכל בניך למודי ה׳ ורב שלום בניך (ישעיה נד יג). חסלת פרשת ויגש.

מדרש תנחומא )בובר( יתרו פרק יג