Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
for I am with you,’ declares the LORD.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” — Jeremiah 46:28
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13–28.
Just as the Torah portion continued with the description of the fall of Egypt, the Haftorah describes another time in history when Egypt was punished again. This time, they were being punished for going to war against Israel. The prophet Jeremiah prophesized that Egypt would soon fall into the hands of Babylon and her people exiled there.
He told them, “Pack your belongings for exile, you who live in Egypt” (Jeremiah 46:19) and “Take your positions and get ready, for the sword devours those around you” (Jeremiah 46:14). Egypt was headed for disaster.
All of this did little to console the people of Israel because they were slated for a similar fate. They had already been warned that they would be captured by the Babylonians. They, too, had sinned and were deserving of punishment. When the people of Israel heard Jeremiah’s words, they weren’t comforted; they were afraid!
This is why the prophet ends with God’s words of comfort for Israel: “Do not be afraid . . . Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you.” This is God’s eternal promise to the Jewish people – He will never completely destroy them.
And even though all logic and statistics say that a tiny nation that has been expelled from its own country twice and has been persecuted for centuries should no longer exists, the nation of Israel lives. According to many theologians, the very fact that the nation of Israel exists today is proof enough of God and the veracity of the Bible.
In 1899 Mark Twain wrote:
“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of their immortality?”
The source of Jewish immortality is no secret to believers. It is God Almighty. He says, “‘Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise” (Jeremiah 46:17), but Israel is forever.
As we look upon the modern miracle of the nation of Israel, let us remember that God keeps all promises and celebrate the fulfillment of them all.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President