On the first day of Passover, the haftarah is from the book of Joshua. It tells about the crossing of the Jordan into Israel, which was then called Canaan. It tells how all of the men were circumcised in preparation for the Passover sacrifice, the first Passover celebrated in the land. We read how on the second day of Passover, the manna ran out, prompting the people to start eating the produce of the land. It tells how Joshua met the angel who was the Chief of G‑d’s Hosts at Jericho.1

Most of the time, the haftarah is connected to the Torah reading. At other times, it is connected to the time of year. Both happen in this haftarah.

The Torah reading speaks of the first Passover sacrifice, done in Egypt prior to the Exodus. It has the plague of the first born, executed by G‑d Himself. It has the laws of the Passover sacrifice—one being that males had to be circumcised to be able to eat from it. From here, we know that every Jewish male that left Egypt was circumcised.

During the 40 years in the desert, they were led by G‑d himself. But they didn’t do circumcision, and they only did one Passover sacrifice.

The haftarah tells about the third Passover sacrifice, done by the Jewish people upon entering the Land of Israel. How all the males were circumcised, and how Joshua met the angel that would lead the Jewish people from then on.

All these things mentioned in the haftarah parallel what we read in the Torah and are connected to the holiday of Passover. However, the haftarah adds one more thing not mentioned or even hinted at in the Torah reading: that the manna ran out, and that they started eating the produce of the land. You can’t say that it is incidental, since this specific haftarah spans four chapters, skipping twice over many verses. It’s clear that this haftarah was tailored for the first day of Passover. Why does the haftarah mention this?

Perhaps it’s because we had to rely on G‑d every day, trusting that the manna would come. This taught us to put our faith in Him. The same is true about the produce of the Land of Israel; it is all in the hands of G‑d. Being that on the first day of Passover we say the prayer for tal (“dew”)—a prayer for sustenance—it makes sense to mention the manna in the haftarah.

In the haftarah, we see that from the time of Joshua, the Jewish people were led by an angel, as opposed to G‑d himself. We read in the Haggadah that G‑d himself took us out of Egypt, not an angel. The haftarah tells us that Joshua was near Jericho, and he saw a man with a sword drawn in his hand. And he said: “I am the chief of the host of G‑d, now I have come.”2 He was an angel that would lead the Jewish people and fight their wars. The Midrash tells us that the angel said, “Now I have come,” but Moses refused to accept the angel.3 He wanted G‑d Himself to lead the Jewish people, as Moses said to G‑d: “If Your Presence does not accompany us, don’t take us up from here.”4 G‑d also fought our wars, as Moses said: “G‑d will fight for you.”5 Why did Moses and his generation merit G‑d Himself, while Joshua and later generations didn’t? What advantage do we have over Moses’s generation?

Those who experienced the Exodus were called the “generation of knowledge,” and they lived a utopian existence. They were a great and lofty generation that experienced miracles daily, having witnessed the most sublime spiritual event in history: the giving of the Ten Commandments. The miracles that they experienced were so sublime that they had no connection to nature. Their souls were from the highest spiritual realm, above angels. Moses was greater than all of them, as the Talmud says that his face was radiant like the sun.6 It was specifically this great generation that would be able to put an end to the Egypt of that time; even though Egypt was steeped in wisdom and learning, it had an impure and evil nature. It took the great generation of the desert to counter and overcome Egypt.

At such a high level of spirituality, it was no wonder that G‑d himself led them. However, although they were basking in the light of Torah, they did not make the physical world into a dwelling place for G‑d. They were not involved in the physical, but only the spiritual, and while that sounds lofty, it’s not what G‑d wants. He wants us to infuse the physical world with G‑dliness, and in the desert, that wasn’t possible.

The generation that entered Israel was not at the same level; their souls came from a lower realm, where the Chief of Hosts, who is an angel, comes from. The Talmud says about Joshua that “his face was like the moon.”7

The difference between the sun and the moon is that the sun gives direct light, while the moon reflects light. The light originates from the same place (the sun), but how it comes to us is different.

The same is true about our souls. They originate in the same place, but some take a direct route, and most travel through many spiritual realms before entering our bodies. While the lofty souls aren’t affected by the lower realms, they don’t affect them either because they have no connection to them. The souls that come through the lower spiritual realms are able to draw the G‑dly light from its source in the highest realm into the lower realms by learning Torah and doing mitzvahs.

Those who entered the land had to deal with the Canaanites, a more base society. It took specifically their souls to overcome the Canaanites.

The same is true for all subsequent generations. Though each gets progressively lower, they are able to draw G‑dliness into lower and lower realms. And every generation is equipped to deal with and overcome the negative forces of their time.8

You might ask: If the great and holy people of previous generations couldn’t bring Moshiach, then how can we? The answer is that it is specifically our souls that can bring G‑dliness into the lowest level. And it is specifically our souls that are equipped to deal with, overcome and break through the terrible darkness at the end of the exile, and usher in the light of Moshiach. May he come soon!