The haftarah for the portion of Shemot has one theme divided into three parts. The general theme is the blossoming of redemption. First, we go down into exile for a reason. Second, in the darkness of the exile is where we are able to accomplish the most, developing ourselves and the world for the ultimate redemption. Third, the gathering of the exiles is described, and how when Moshiach comes, we will reap the fruits of our labor in exile.

(There are also hints on how to bring Moshiach, through showing love to our fellow Jews.)

The connection to our Torah portion is that the Shemot begins with the descent of the Jewish people into Egypt. Then it tells of the hard labor and the amazing growth of the Jewish nation. Then, finally, comes the beginning of our redemption from Egypt, when G‑d sent Moses to start the process of the Exodus.

What We Do Now Is Most Powerful

Another connection is in the first verse of the haftarah. The parshah begins, “And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt.”1 The haftarah also begins, “Those who came, whom Jacob caused to take root, Israel budded and blossomed, and they filled the face of the Earth with fruit.”2 The parshah also tells us how the Jewish people multiplied.

Both Jacob and Israel are names of the Jewish people. When it comes to taking root, it says Jacob, but by budding and blossoming, it says Israel. Why?

“Jacob” refers to the Jewish people when they interact with the physical world, which in the time of exile is a very dark place. It is symbolic of serving G‑d out of “accepting the yoke” of His will, which is our main mode of service in exile. This form of service is not necessarily very meaningful, but it is the most powerful. It is compared to planting, which is hard, thankless work. Planting a small tasteless seed in the ground, where it is dark and cold. But it is there where this seed takes root and grows into a great tree. The transformation from a small seed to a large tree is exponentially great; the same is true about our service in exile. It is hard work—tasteless, cold and dark—but here is where our work takes root, and the transformation is well beyond our efforts.

“Israel” refers to the Jewish people’s interaction with the spiritual and the G‑dly, which is mainly in the time of Moshiach. It is symbolic of serving G‑d out of deep appreciation and understanding. It is compared to budding and blossoming, and the growth of fruit. Above ground, in the light and warmth, the budding and blossoming is visible and beautiful, and the fruit is tasty and enjoyable. In the light and revelation of G‑d in the era of Moshiach, we will have the pleasure of seeing the accomplishments of our actions and the fruits of our labor.

All this will be possible only because of the seeds we planted in the exile. So our work now as Jacob, in the darkness of the exile, is what gives us the great pleasure as Israel, in the time of Moshiach.3

G‑d Will Take Every Jew by the Hand

The haftarah continues with a rebuke to the Jewish people for idol worship and then resumes telling about the time of Moshiach. “It will be on that day, G‑d will beat [the kernel from the chaff] from the river until the brook of Egypt, and you, the children of Israel, will be gathered one by one. And it will be on that day, the great shofar will be sounded, and those who are lost in Assyria and those who are cast away in Egypt will come and bow down to G‑d on the Holy Mountain, in Jerusalem.”4

G‑d will remove the kernel (the Jewish people) from the chaff (the nations of the world). The river refers to Assyria, which was on the Euphrates. What is the significance of Egypt and Assyria? And why are the exiles in Egypt called “cast away,” while those of Assyria are called “lost”?

There are two types of exiles. Egypt is symbolic of every exile of oppression and servitude. The name Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which means “constraints.” When the Jewish people were in the Egyptian exile, they were in forced servitude. That is why they are called “cast away.”

The second kind of exile is one of abundance and freedom. As the name Assyria in Hebrew is Ashur, which means “happy.” And when the Jewish people were exiled to Assyria, they had religious and economic freedom. When there is abundance and freedom, it is easy to get lost in the culture of the time and stray from the Jewish way. This is why the exiles of Assyria are called “lost.”5

The verse says, “and you, the children of Israel, will be gathered one by one,” literally, “to the one, one.” What is the meaning of these words?

First, that every Jewish person will be gathered. Second, that G‑d Himself will be involved personally with taking every individual one of us; Rashi explains that He will take each of us “by the hand.” Third, the “one,” the essence of every Jew, will be gathered and become united with “The One,” which is G‑d.

Alternatively, it is a call to each of us, to reach out to others with love and bring them closer to G‑d.6

The Call of the Great Shofar</2>

What is the significance of the “great” shofar that will be sounded? Also, there is no indication as to who is doing the blowing. Why?

The sound of the shofar reaches the core of every Jew. The question is: How powerful is its effect? There are four levels in shofar, and each of them shakes us up by touching our core.

The shofar of Rosh Hashanah is a cry from deep within the heart of a Jew—deeper than the reach of our understanding. Therefore, it reaches deep within G‑d, to the Divine will, which is far beyond Divine wisdom. This causes G‑d, so to speak, to blow the shofar, meaning, shining from his divine will upon us. This is the meaning of the verse: “G‑d, our G‑d, will blow the shofar.”

Greater than the shofar of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar-blowing of Yom Kippur, which was blown to announce the Jubilee year, of which the Torah says: “You must proclaim shofar blasts.”

Greater than that was the shofar that was sounded at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Concerning this, the Torah says: “The sound of the shofar was going and very strong.”

Yet, the sounding of the shofar when Moshiach comes will be even greater than all the previous three, as it is called the “great shofar.” It will be so strong that it will reach every Jew, even those who are “lost in Assyria and cast away in Egypt.” It will affect them to the point that they “will come and bow down to G‑d.” At what level? The verse continues, “on the Holy Mountain in Jerusalem,” meaning, the holiest level.7

Why will it be so powerful? Because of the blower. While the shofar of Rosh Hashanah, jubilee and the giving of the Torah are great, they all come from a place in G‑d that relates to the world. However, the sound of shofar of Moshiach comes from the essence of G‑d, beyond any connection to existence. That is why it doesn’t tell us who is doing the blowing; it is a part of G‑d that is beyond any name or description. This call of the shofar will reach the essence of every Jew, no matter how far they have strayed.8

The Rebbe explains that this is similar to major events in the world, like the Six-Day War in 1967, where the hand of G‑d was so apparent that the souls of Jewish people all around the world were set ablaze.9

The haftarah continues with a rebuke to Ephraim (the 10 northern tribes) for their arrogance and warned of the devastating consequences headed their way. Then it speaks of the future glory of Judah and Benjamin, followed by a depiction of their present “drunken” and irreverent state.

Love Brings Moshiach

The last two verses return to Moshiach: “So says G‑d to the House of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham.”10 The simple meaning here is that G‑d, who saved Abraham, is speaking to the House of Jacob. However, it could be read as if Jacob is the one who redeemed Abraham. What are we meant to learn from this? And what does it have to do with Moshiach?

Abraham’s attribute is love. As Jews, we are obligated to love every Jewish person, irrespective of their observance level. However, when a friend who knows better sins and continues to do so even after you approached him and talked to him about it, the Talmud tells you to hate him.

This is where Jacob’s attribute of compassion redeems Abraham. When you see your friend’s failing, you will hate the bad in him, but at the same time, you will recognize that he has good deep within. You will have compassion on his soul. This will awaken the love for your friend again.11

Since love among Jews is a key element in bringing Moshiach, it is mentioned here.

The verse continues: “Jacob will no longer be ashamed . . . When he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they shall sanctify My name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and they shall praise the G‑d of Israel.12

May it happen soon!