The haftarah for the second day of Rosh Hashanah is all about the redemption. It details how we will return to our ancient homeland of Israel and how wonderful it will be in the future Messianic age. It also explains the reason why we will merit redemption and ends with how much G‑d loves us.

The core of its message is repentance and ultimate sacrifice. That is its connection to Rosh Hashanah.

The haftarah begins with G‑d saying that He found favor in us when we were in the desert, and He led us to tranquility in Israel. It continues to describe how we will return there, how wonderful things will be, and that we will return as a “vast assembly.”

With what merit will we return? With the merit of repentance: returning to G‑d through prayer and supplication. As the verse says, “They will come weeping, with supplications I will lead them.” The power of our repentance will bring an end to this exile, and it is repentance that is central to the High Holidays, as the Ten days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, are called the 10 Days of repentance.

G‑d then addresses the nations of world, and tells them that He will redeem us and that they won't be able to take advantage of us anymore. Then G‑d says the most amazing thing: “I will turn their mourning into joy.” He doesn't say that He will end our mourning. Rather He will turn our mourning into joy. This means that the actual suffering and pain of the exile will be transformed into joy. The more the suffering in exile, the greater the joy when Moshiach comes.

The haftarah continues: “So says G‑d, ‘a voice is heard on high, bitter weeping, Rachel is crying for her children...’” Her cries are so powerful, that G‑d gives in to her. He tells her that she doesn't have to cry anymore, “your children will return to their border.”

It is certain that our patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and our other matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca and Leah) are crying for us as well. Why are only Rachel’s cries heard? Why is she able to break through, while the others could not?

It is because of her great sacrifice. What was her sacrifice?

Many of you know the story. When Jacob and Rachel were to be married, Jacob suspected that the unscrupulous Laban, his future father-in-law, would put his older daughter, Leah, under the veil. So he and Rachel prepared a secret signal for her to show, so that he would know that it was really her. When Laban indeed made the switch, Rachel realized how embarrassed Leah would be if she was discovered, so she gave her the secret sign. By giving her sister the signal, she sacrificed everything. First, she gave away the man she loved. Second, had she married him that day, she would have possibly been his only wife and the mother of all the tribes. She also gave up the ability to be with Jacob, which was not only a physical sacrifice, but a spiritual loss as well.

This is her tearful argument to G‑d. This is her tearful argument to G‑dIf I, a mere mortal, was not jealous of my sister and gave her the secret signal, then G‑d, who doesn't have jealousy, because He is far beyond that, should not be jealous that the Jewish people served false gods. And with this cry, she accomplishes what no one else could, that her children will return to their border.

Then, as He does throughout the haftarah, G‑d uses Ephraim as a metaphor for his nation.

G‑d says, “Isn't Ephraim my beloved son? Isn't he a precious child?... I surely will have compassion on him.” This beloved verse is part of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, said in a beautiful melodic tune, and the congregation usually joins in. In this verse G‑d describes his love and affection for us, and that when He thinks of us, He is moved.

G‑d loves us so much, and he will have compassion and redeem us. The message here for Rosh Hashanah is that through repentance and true sacrifice we can bring Moshiach.

With all this said, we have all sacrificed enough already. May G‑d show His love for us and send Moshiach right away.

Have a happy and sweet year.

__

In honor of my wife Dina, whose daily sacrifices for me and the family is what keeps us together and strong. I don't know what we would do without her.