I7In the haftarah for parshat Ki Tavo the prophet speaks of light:

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has shone upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the kingdoms, and the Lord shall shine upon you, and His glory shall appear over you.
And nations shall go by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine.
Lift up your eyes all around and see, they all have gathered, they have come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be raised on [their] side.
Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall be startled and become enlarged, for the abundance of the west shall be turned over to you, the wealth of the nations that will come to you.

(Isaiah 60:1-5)

Laura Suzanne Lieber. Study Guide to the JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot.( Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2002)Pg 77 , sums up our haftarah as follows: “Images of light and splendor speak of the divine light of God that will shine over Israel and provide a beacon to the exiles. These images reflect the radiance of the ingathering to Zion as well as the everlasting light of the messianic future, when the light of the sun will be replaced by divine light. The restoration will exceed anything previously known.

The messianic light of Isaiah 60:19-20 may allude to the initial light created in Gen 1:3. According to Franz Rosensweig the final redemption would complete the creation of daily light recorded in Genesis. A similar idea occurs in the Zohar, (Gen.45b)“It is written ‘And God said, Let there be light and there was light’ Said R. Jose, That light was hidden and kept in store for the righteous in the world to come, as already stated, for it is written, ‘A light is sown for the righteous” (Ps 97:11)

Light in a world of darkness

In 1914 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who would later become the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the State of Israel, visited the National Gallery in London. His aesthetic sensibilities were aroused by the artistic grandeur, which he encountered there. He was particularly transfixed by Rembrandt’s paintings:

“When I lived in London I used to visit the National gallery and my favorite pictures were those of Rembrandt. I really think that Rembrandt was a Tzadik (a righteous person) Do you know that when I first saw Rembrandt’s works, they reminded me of the legend about the creation of light? We are told that when God created light it was so strong and pellucid, that one could see from one end of the world to the other, but God was afraid that the wicked might abuse it. What did He do? He reserved that light for the righteous when the Messiah should come. But now and then there are great men who are blessed and privileged to see it. I think that Rembrandt was one of them, and the light in his pictures is the very light that was originally created by God Almighty.” (Jewish Chronicle of London, September 13, 1935).

Rabbi Kook’s approach allows us to find spiritual light and illumination in every generation and in mutifarious venues. He was a master of the lights. Many of his Torah compositions have the word light in their titles. He delves into the philosophical refractions of light and glowingly asserts:

“In truth, all darkness is merely diminished light” (Orot Hakodesh II)



Rabbi Kook was a fervent proponent of loving your neighbor. He taught the importance of embracing and accepting all others. Through love and unity light can fill our world.  He suggested that we can become pro-active in this regard by focusing on the positive in one another, and understanding our deep connections.

“We call attention to the positive traits of our fellow Jews, we will come to love them with an inner affection. This is not a form of insincere flattery, nor does it mean ‘white-washing’ faults and foibles. But by concentrating on the positive characteristics — and every person has a good side — the negative aspects become insignificant.” Orot HaKodesh vol. III p. 325).

“Each one of you, each individual soul from the aggregation of all of you, is a great spark, part of the torch of the Light of the universe which enlightens my life. You give meaning to life and work, to Torah and prayer, to song and hope. It is through the conduit of your being that I sense everything and love everything.” (Shemonah Kevatzim 1:163)

These powerful ideas may explain Isaiah’s juxtaposition of God’s supernal light and his declaration in verse 21” And your people, all of them righteous, shall inherit the land forever”. When our actions, perspectives and attitudes change we can create  brighter world.

You shall no longer have the sun for light by day, and for brightness, the moon shall not give you light, but the Lord shall be to you for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.
Your sun shall no longer set, neither shall your moon be gathered in, for the Lord shall be to you for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be completed.
And your people, all of them righteous, shall inherit the land forever, a scion of My planting, the work of My hands in which I will glory.
. (19-21)






When we are able to resolve our differences we transition from darkness to light. These actions make our world a better place and the Rabbis teach us that they serve as the prelude to the light of redemption.

“Today you all stand together before God. There are days of darkness and days of light, so it is with you that even when you experience darkness God will shine eternal  light upon you as it says, ”The Lord shall be to you for an everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19) When? When you shall be one unit as it says  “But you that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day”. (Deut. 4:4)  It is the way of the world, if one take a bundle of sheaves can he break them all together? However, if he takes them one by one even a child is able to break them. So too, we find that Israel will not be redeemed until they become a single unit as it says “In those days, at that time,”declares the Lord, the people of Israel and the people of Judah together
will go in tears to seek the Lord their God.” (Jer 50:4)and it says, “In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage. “(3:18) when they are united, then they will greet the Shechinah (Holy Presence)(Midrash Tanhuma B Nitzavim  4)


Our haftarah ends on a note of profound blessing:  “ The smallest shall become a thousand and the least a mighty nation; I am the Lord, in its time I will hasten it”.(verse 22) God will bring about the reversal of fortune causing the small nation of Israel to boom and He will speedily bring the promised redemption.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi (Shir haShirim Rabbah 8:19)  interpreted the verse differently: I am the Lord, who will bring the redemption either in its due time, or  earlier. If you do not merit it, it will come in its designated time. If you do merit it, I will bring it earlier. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi contends that we have a role to play through our actions in expediting the process.

In the words of Rabbi Kook if the destruction and exile were a function of “sinat achim chinam” groundless hatred between people. The redemption will come through “ahavat achim chinam” boundless love of one another!

May it come speedily in our day!