The haftarah, beginning from Zechariah 2:14, is often read twice during the year: Once the (first) Shabbat of Chanukah, and again on the week of Baahalotecha.

The obvious reason for reading this haftarah is because it speaks of a golden menorah and the High Priest. On Chanukah, we celebrate the miracle with the lights of the menorah and finding the oil with the unbroken seal of the High Priest, and the portion of Behaalotecha begins with Aaron the High Priest being instructed with regards to lighting the menorah.

This haftarah is prophecy from Zachariah at the end of the Persian exile, just before we returned to Israel to build the Second Temple. But it clearly also refers to us, at the end of this final exile, soon to be building the third and last Temple. In this article, I will mostly discuss how it pertains to our time.

The haftarah begins, “Sing and rejoice daughter of Zion, behold I will come and dwell in your midst.” The Jewish people here are called “daughter of Zion” and told to rejoice. The haftarah continues with two prophecies—first about Joshua the High Priest, and second about the golden menorah.

Why ‘Daughter of Zion’

Why are we called “daughter of Zion”? And why do we begin the reading here and not with the prophecy of the golden menorah, which is the subject of Chanukah and Behaalotecha?

The key to understanding this is the time in which Zachariah had this prophecy—during exile, a time of darkness.

The Jewish people are called “Zion,” but only prior to the exile. During the exile, we are at sub-Zion level, referred to as the “daughter of Zion.” However, it is specifically when we are at this level that we can bring the most light into the world. This is the whole idea of lighting the menorah—to shine the light of G‑d throughout the world.

When the Jewish people are referred to in the feminine, we are called either “daughter,” “sister” or “mother.” We are called “daughter” when we do mitzvahs and are in the mode of G‑d’s servants, accepting the yoke He burdens us with. We are called “sister” when we study Torah and create, so to speak, a kinship with G‑d, getting to know Him. We are called “mother” when we pray. Like a mother who has an influence on her children, when we pray, we affect G‑d, so to speak, awakening His compassion and kindness.

While the “mother” and “sister” modes sound more meaningful, they can only draw G‑d’s light commensurate to one prayer or learning. However, in the “daughter” mode, the person is not a factor since he is totally abnegated to G‑d’s yoke, which is placed upon him. Thus, the light of G‑d that enters the world is according to G‑d’s ability, which is infinite. So the greatest amount of light shines when we are called “daughter of Zion.”

So, why Zion? Why not “daughter of Israel?”

Zion also refers to tzadikim, or “righteous people.” Thus, “daughter of Zion” refers to those who connect themselves to tzadikim, especially the tzadik of the generation. This makes it possible to serve G‑d with joy, even when doing mitzvahs out of a sense of duty. And perhaps another reason this generates true joy is because the tzadik unites us; working in unity, our egos are nullified, and we are united in cause.

Such togetherness creates a momentum and a joy that is so powerful. This is the meaning of “Sing and rejoice daughter of Zion.” This joy of unity and the nullification of the self to Hashem’s will fills the world with such a great light that, “Behold I will come and dwell in your midst.” In other words, Moshiach will come.

Joshua the High Priest

Why are we able bring Moshiach while our holy ancestors were not?

To answer this question, we need to look further into the haftarah. G‑d shows Zachariah a vision. Joshua the High Priest is standing before the angel of G‑d; to his right is the Satan ready to accuse him. G‑d says to the Satan: “G‑d will rebuke you Satan; G‑d, who chooses Jerusalem, will reprimand you.” In other words, how dare you accuse Joshua, “is he not a firebrand rescued from fire?”

Nebuchadnezzar had Joshua thrown into the fire, but because he was so holy, he was protected by G‑d. G‑d is saying here: “Isn’t that enough proof of his holiness?”

The Rebbe explained that our generation is a firebrand rescued from fire, especially after the Holocaust. Moses was amazed by us. And who wouldn’t be? After all we have been through, we are still doing what G‑d wants—and with all our hearts. Even one mitzvah done today by a non-observant Jew is an exceptional act and special to G‑d. Therefore, we are amazing, and our service to G‑d is on a whole new level of holiness compared to that of previous generations. Just as Joshua the High Priest merited seeing the building of the Second Holy Temple, so will we merit seeing the building of the third and final Holy Temple.

Now we can see how the prophecy of the golden menorah fits in. The menorah was made of one solid piece of gold and had seven branches. The seven branches symbolize seven types of Jews, each of whom serves G‑d from the spiritual nature of his soul—one out of love, another out of awe, etc. The common denominator is that we all give light.

Why was it made of one solid piece of gold? To show that although there are different paths, ultimately, we are one. This unity is the key to our success. When we are together, our light shines brightest, and we have the greatest effect on the world. Loving our fellow Jew is the key to bringing Moshiach.

The menorah in Zachariah’s prophecy had two olive trees on either side of it, and the olives were automatically processed into oil. The oil dripped into a bowl above the menorah, and from the bowl, there were pipes feeding the lamps of the menorah.

Why olives? Because though olives are bitter, from them comes the oil that produces light. This is a lesson about the exile. Although it is bitter, out of it we produce the greatest light.

Why was the oil self-producing and automatically feeding the lamps of the menorah? The haftarah answers the question. G‑d says, “Not with might, nor by power, but by My spirit.” When the time for Moshiach comes, we won’t have to fight battles or exert strength in any way. The whole world will accept G‑d’s dominion and Moshiach’s leadership. It will be effortless because G‑d will do it all.

May we sing and rejoice together with the coming of Moshiach, knowing that it is our efforts that filled the world with the light of G‑d and transformed the exile into redemption. May it happen soon!