The haftarah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh is the last chapter of Isaiah. In it we can see an encapsulation of the book itself. On the one hand, the prophet admonishes the people for their immoral choices; on the other, he speaks in lavish terms of the bright future ahead for the Jewish people.

The chapter begins with a rebuke for a common notion prevalent at the time. People would come to the Temple with offerings and sacrifices that they understood would fulfill their religious obligations and atone for their sins. The objective of the Temple itself was totally lost to these people, upon whom the Temple experience left no impression insofar as moral and holy behavior.

G‑d will eventually punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Those who remained faithful to Jerusalem and mourned for her will witness its rise from destruction. Jerusalem will once again be filled with its children, and this will happen with incredible speed. G‑d will personally comfort His people for everything they went through and endured in their time of suffering.

Retribution will eventually also come both to the nations of the world and to those Jews who deserve it. G‑d will gather them and punish them, demonstrating to all the nations once and for all time that there is a master of this world.1

In time to come, having witnessed G‑d’s mighty hand, the nations of the world will bring forth the lost and assimilated Jews from within their midst, parading them back to Jerusalem amid great celebration. Even if those Jews had forgotten their identity, G‑d will not forget. If they are from the priestly or Levite families, they too will serve G‑d in the Temple.

At this time, the ridicule and disgrace of the wicked will be apparent to all. For the righteous, a state of peace and redemption will prevail for eternity. Every Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat will see a mass pilgrimage to the Temple in service of the one G‑d.2

Where is G‑d to be found?

“What house could you build for Me, and what could be My resting place? . . . But it is to this that I look: to the poor and broken-spirited person who is zealous regarding My word.”

Having a location which was “G‑d’s place” in this world was meant to elevate and inspire the people visiting it and and worshipping in it. Instead, however, there were those who viewed it through the lens of the pagan culture prevalent at the time: this was home to the mighty G‑d, and if we pay tribute to Him, we will do well. If this was the attitude, the prophet says, then the entire notion is altogether false: what kind of home could contain G‑d? What could you possibly build for the creator of all?

Aside from the simple meaning, there is also a statement here with regard to the presence of G‑d in the works of man. In the broad sense, the verse is saying that there is essentially no capacity, no “house,” that man can construct that will touch, let alone “contain,” G‑d Himself.

This is true not only with regard to man’s earthly capacity, but also to the capabilities of his soul. The soul, as a G‑dly being, possesses the ability to connect and “be” in the most lofty of G‑dly realities. These, however, will always be a state of being in some level of closeness or inclusion in G‑dliness. No experience, however sublime, can contain the un-experienceable. No revelation of G‑d will give access to His essence.

This will be true as long as the created being chooses to connect to G‑d via his own capabilities. If seeking to connect with G‑d Himself, the person must leave his own capacity behind.

This is what the verse means when it says: “It is to this that I look: to the poor and broken-spirited person.” Accumulating spiritual “riches” and “greatness of spirit” on any possible level will always somehow be finite. Experience will touch experience. Loftiness will remain . . . lofty. If connection to G‑d is desired, it will be when a person puts him- or herself aside and connects to G‑d simply and purely, with nothing of the self attached.3

A new heaven and earth

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I will make will endure before Me,” says G‑d, “so shall your seed and your name endure.” What is meant by these “new heavens and new earth”? Various explanations are offered by the commentaries.

Radak understands that “new” is a reference to the heavens and earth in their present state. Unlike other creations that either die or deteriorate over time, the heavens and earth exist in the same way as when they were first created. The message of the verse is that the eternity of the redemption will continue in the same grandeur as it began, and will not change or falter over time.

Most commentaries, however, understand that in the time to come there will indeed be a kind of “new” heaven and earth. Ibn Ezra explains that G‑d will renew the atmosphere and vitality of the earth, which will drastically improve the quality of life. People will be exceedingly healthy and will live many years.

The teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut explain that in the days of Moshiach the world will take on such a new reality that it will be as though there actually is a “new heaven and earth.” One of the ways this is explained is by going back to the description of creation itself.

After the account of the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest, the Torah returns to elaborate on the creation of plant life and the emergence of man. It prefaces this narrative with the words “These are the products of heaven and earth.”4 The Hebrew word for “products” (or “generations”) is toldot. As it usually appears in the Torah, this Hebrew word usually contains the letter vav only once (תולדת or תלדות). The only time in the Five Books of Moses that this word appears “full”—with two vavs (תולדות)—is here. This reflects the words of our sages that “the world was created complete.”5 Spiritually, until the sin of man, the world was not lacking anything in and of itself. Although there may be a level of G‑dly revelation that surpasses anything that could be contained in the physical realm, this does not constitute a lack or deficiency on the level of the physical world itself. In this sense, the world lacked nothing at the time of creation.

There is, however, one more time in Scripture where the word toldot appears “full,” with two vavs. This is at the end of the book of Ruth, when describing the lineage (“generations”) from Peretz, son of Judah, down to King David. Interestingly, the book of Ruth chooses to begin the line with Peretz, the son, and not from his more well-known father, Judah. This becomes more puzzling when we consider that the book’s purpose is to identify King David as the worthy descendant of Judah, of whom Jacob prophesied, “The scepter will never leave Judah.”6 The logical conclusion is that there must be a specific association between David (and his descendants) and Peretz.

Recounting the story of the birth of the twin boys Peretz and Zerach, the Torah tells us that Zerach stretched out his hand from the womb first. The midwife tied a crimson string to his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But then, just as he was retracting his hand, the other twin suddenly emerged! Judah called the boy Peretz, which means “breaking” or “bursting” forth.7 The Midrash8 says that Judah had prophetic intent with this name. The prophet Micah9 refers to Moshiach as poreitz, “a breaker.” Judah foresaw that of these two children, it would be Peretz who would be the ancestor of David, and eventually Moshiach.

The reason Moshiach is referred to in this way is because he will lead the world into a state of G‑dly revelation that will “break” and “burst through” every and all boundaries. Ultimately, the days of Moshiach will bring a time when G‑d will be sensed and revealed in His most complete and total way, without any limitation and hindrance. This is why the word toldot appears “complete” when describing the descendants of Peretz. Although the world may have been complete on its own level after creation, the days of Moshiach will bring the realization of “completeness” it its truest and ultimate sense.

The works of creation, “heaven and earth,” will be taken at that time to a totally new state of existence: “a new heaven and a new earth.”10