The capital city is besieged by a mighty and far superior army. The inhabitants are frightened. The invaders have pledged a swift campaign, bent on completely overpowering the population and obliterating the existing infrastructure.

A menacing convoy of infantry and artillery stretches for miles, promising untold horror. The commander in chief sends a message to the terror-stricken inhabitants, “Your leaders are deceiving you. You don’t stand a chance. Surrender now.”

No. This is not Ukraine 2022, rather Jerusalem, c. 548B.C.E.

It is the dramatic story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib, told in the Prophets, and—most importantly for us—read aloud in shul as the haftarah for the final day of Passover.

That Night, the King Rolled Over

King Hezekiah ruled the Jewish kingdom from its capital, Jerusalem. After many successful campaigns across the region, the mighty Assyrian King Sennacherib had laid siege to the Jewish stronghold. A mighty warrior, Sennacherib is remembered to this day as one of the greatest kings of ancient history, and with his army of nearly three million soldiers, the Jews inside the city walls were terrified.

It was the night of Passover. Instead of the joyous, festive air, a spirit of mourning washed over the city. Even the righteous King Hezekiah donned sackcloth as one in grief, and all anyone could do was pray for a miracle.

Amid this incredible tension, the Prophet Isaiah appears to Hezekiah with a message of comfort and hope, of victory and triumph: “The G‑d of Israel has heard your prayers. The king of Assyria shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there. The way he came, the same way he shall return. For G‑d Himself will defend this city and save it.”

What does Hezekiah do next? The Midrash tells us a remarkable thing:

Hezekiah stood up and said, “I lack the capability to pursue them, nor do I have the energy to sing to G‑d. Rather, I will go to sleep, and You, G‑d, will do what needs to be done.”1

Think about that. Here’s a leader of a nation under fire, the specter of death hanging over their heads. A gargantuan army surrounds the town, ominously rattling their sabers. And what does he do?

He goes to sleep!

How could he? Was he not at least a wee bit anxious? Was there really nothing on his heart such that he was able to simply roll over? How does that even make sense? The world’s largest army is right outside your window, for heaven’s sake!

The answer is quite simple: Hezekiah believed. For real. All he needed to hear was that G‑d promised everything would be OK, and that was enough. “If G‑d was going to come through, what’s there to worry about? Why should I lose even a moment of sleep?” Hezekiah thought to himself. “Let Him handle the mess, and I’ll carry on with whatever I was doing.”


How did G‑d respond?

The Midrash continues:

G‑d replied, “Indeed, I will do it.” And so it was: “And it came to pass on that night that an angel of G‑d went out and slew 185,000 of the camp of Assyria. And they arose in the morning, and behold they were all dead corpses. And Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, left and went away.”2

Be Like Hezekiah: An Oasis of Calm

Hezekiah’s attitude is why we read this story on the final day of Pesach, when we turn our focus from the Exodus of the past to the Redemption of the future.

In this context, Hezekiah’s story is vital. If we could only replicate even a fraction of his attitude, our lives would be a whole lot easier, healthier, and happier.

You see, what he did for Hezekiah, G‑d does for us too. G‑d promises us that Moshiach will come, and what’s more, we are told that he can come at any moment—even right now!

If we only believed in that promise like Hezekiah did . . . wow! Can you imagine what life would be like?

Think about it: Sure Hezekiah did all he could, bolstering the city’s fortifications, cutting off the enemy’s water supply, and praying to G‑d. But then, he rolled over in the face of millions of trained soldiers committed to his murder.

You probably don’t have trained killers threatening your life, but there are elements threatening to upend your sense of security. Who in modern society doesn’t suffer from anxiety of some sort? Whether it’s worries about financial security, troubles with relationships and family, or consistent pressure from untended mental and/or emotional stress, we are currently experiencing a pandemic not only of viral nature, but of acute internal discord.

Take a page from Hezekiah’s playbook. G‑d has promised a better future, a completely alternate reality where none of that pressure exists. And the amazing thing is that it could literally happen right now. So why fret when in the next moment it will all be gone?

As you eat the matzah and drink the four cups of wine at the Moshiach’s Meal on this final day of Pesach, be like Hezekiah and carve out an oasis of calm in your life. You have G‑d’s promise, so after you have done all that you can, roll over and sleep peacefully.

This essay is based on Torat Menachem, vol. 33, pp. 349-353. Sichot Kodesh 5732 vol. 2, pp. 157-158.