The haftarah for Bamidbar is a prophecy about the time of Moshiach from the book of Hoshea (Hosea). It begins by telling us that when Moshiach comes, we will be so many, so numerous that we will be uncountable, and that the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel will unite under one king. Then it tells us how we have strayed and worshipped other deities, thinking that they will provide our needs. How we will be punished for straying from G‑d, yet in the end, we will come to our senses, return to G‑d and realize that everything we ever had was really from Him. Then G‑d will renew His bond with us, and we will be connected forever.1

The connection to our parshah is that Bamidbar speaks about counting the Jewish people, and it tells how the Jewish camp was organized in the desert, united around the Mishkan. Similarly, the haftarah begins with the count of the Jewish people when Moshiach comes and says that we will unite under one king.

However, that is all covered in the first two verses of the haftarah. How does the rest of the haftarah connect?

Bamidbar is always read before Shavuot, so there is a connection between the time of the year and the parsha. As we will soon see, the whole haftarah connects to Shavuot.

The haftarah begins: “And the number of the Children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea which can neither be measured nor counted, and it will be, that in the place that it was said to them, ‘you are not My nation,’ will be said to them, ‘children of the Living G‑d.’ ”2

We can ask: The verse starts off with “And the number of the Children of Israel will be,” as if they could be counted as a finite number, and it continues to say that they “can neither be measured nor counted,” which means infinite. How can they be both finite and infinite?

Another question: Why does it say that “in the place that it was said to them, ‘you are not My nation,’ will be said to them, ‘children of the Living G‑d’ ”? The words “in the place” seem to mean “instead.” So why say, “in the place?”

Infinite Inside

G‑d is infinite and the world is finite, but being that everything is from Him, we must conclude that everything is really infinite if you dig deep enough. Only that in order to have a functioning world, G‑d covered Himself so that the world appears finite.

In Jewish law, when a person covers his head with his hand, it is not considered covered because his hand is part of him.3

So when G‑d covers His infinite Self, in order that the world will appear finite, it is as if he is covering Himself with a part of Himself, which is not really a cover at all. This means that even what appears to us as finite is really infinite.

The next verse says: “The Children of Judah and the Children of Israel will gather together and they will appoint for themselves [Moshiach as their] one head and they will go up from the land [of Israel], for great is the day of Yizrael.”4 The meaning of this verse is clear, that we will unite as one under Moshiach and return to our Holy Land. But what is “the day of Yizrael?” And how does it connect to the theme of the haftarah?

This is the lesson we learn from these verses. We are infinite in finite, a neshama in a body, and our job is to reveal the infinite in the finite. How do we do this? By doing mitzvahs. Mitzvahs seem finite. There are 613 biblical and seven rabbinical mitzvahs; each one is connected to a physical object, time, place; and there are exact laws of how to perform them. Yet, since they are G‑d’s will, they are in essence infinite. A mitzvah is G‑d planting His infinite Self into the finite physical object, and when we perform the mitzvah we reveal the infinite in the finite.

Now we can understand how on one hand we are finite and on the other we are infinite because the essence of a Jew is to reveal the infinite in the finite.

Now the words “in the place” begin to make sense. Because in the same exact place, this physical world, that we were perceived as “not My nation,” (finite) we will be seen as “the children of the Living G‑d” (infinite).

The words “great is the day of Yizrael” also become clear. Yizrael is made up of two words, yizra E-l, which mean “G‑d planted.” When Moshiach comes, we will clearly see how G‑d planted Himself into creation, infinite into finite. The day will be great—meaning that there won’t be any more darkness. We will see the infinite in the finite, the light hidden in the darkness. We will see how all the pain, suffering and the darkness of the exile was actually a great light in disguise, and how our efforts in overcoming the difficulties were the actual acts that brought Moshiach.

The Giving of the Torah

It all began with the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, when G‑d Himself descended on the mountain, infinite into finite, to give us the Torah. It was the first time that infinite and finite were experienced as one, and it showed us the purpose of our mission: to reveal G‑dliness down here in the physical world, the infinite in the finite.5

The haftarah continues to tell us how we strayed like an unfaithful wife, hoping to gain from our relationships with other countries and from false deities, instead of putting our trust and faith in G‑d. It describes how we will return to Him and recognize that He is the only One we could truly rely on, and that everything we ever had was actually from Him. All this is meant to bring us to the next part of the haftarah, where G‑d accepts us and renews His bond with us.

The haftarah concludes with G‑d telling us: “I will betroth you to Me (Li) forever, and I will betroth you to Me (Li) with righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and compassion. And I will betroth you to Me (Li) with belief, and you will know G‑d.”6 Why doesn’t it just say that I will betroth you to Me forever with righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, compassion and belief? Why is it divided into three statements? Why does He say “to Me” each time?” Isn’t that obvious from the words “I will betroth you?”

There are two parts to a Jewish marriage ceremony: the betrothal and the chuppah (marriage). In the betrothal, the groom gives the bride the ring and through her acceptance she becomes his betrothed, and no one else can have her hand in marriage. Then you have the chuppah and the blessings that go with it—the conclusion of the wedding—and they begin to live as husband and wife. Although we do both stages consecutively nowadays, that wasn’t always the case. The common custom in days gone by was to have the betrothal, and about a year later, the chuppah. The year in between was like an engagement period; she was already considered married, except that they weren’t living together.

In the haftarah narrative, G‑d is the groom and we, His people, are the bride. This betrothal was at the time of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai; the marriage will be completed when Moshiach comes. The words, “I will betroth you” are written in the singular, similar to the Ten Commandments which were said in the singular. When G‑d said, “I Am the Lord your G‑d,”7 everyone felt that G‑d was speaking to him or her personally. The same is true here; G‑d is betrothing each of us personally.

There is a rule that whenever G‑d says Li, it means that it will never change. So our betrothed status is everlasting; nothing can change it. You may ask, when Moshiach comes the marriage will be complete and we will not be betrothed anymore, so how can it be said that it won’t change?

There is something special about the engagement or betrothal period—the way the groom treats his bride is extra endearing and precious. The verses are saying that even after the completion of the marriage, G‑d will continue to treat us in the special way, usually reserved for the engagement period.

Three Betrothals

What is the reason he wants to betroth us? For this, there are three reasons based on the three statements of betrothal. “I will betroth you to Me (leolam) forever,” refers to one who has a deep understanding of G‑d and is able to connect at the highest levels.

However, not everybody can reach this level. This is where “I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and compassion,” comes to play. These are those who connect to G‑d on an emotional level and through actions, like giving tzedakah, correcting bad traits, and doing acts of kindness and compassion.

Then there are those that are emotionally and monetarily poor. They have nothing to give. For them G‑d says: “I will betroth you to Me with belief,” emunah. Every Jew believes—we are “believers the children of believers”8—as we have seen that even Jews that were not that observant have sacrificed themselves rather than break their connection with G‑d.

Now, at the end of the exile, the main way to connect to G‑d is through emunah, belief. About Moses it says: “And the man Moses was the humblest of any person that was on the face of the earth.”9 Why was he so humble? Because he saw our generation—the generation that would bring Moshiach. He saw how void of understanding or even emotional connection we will be, yet our emunah would be so strong. This humbled him.10

Emunah is a key to bringing Moshiach. May we merit to experience the last words of the haftarah, “and you will know G‑d,”11 the completion of our marriage, when we will see the infinite in the finite, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.