This year the messages are so clear and timely that we truly can feel good about what is coming up in the very near future. The Haftarah for Shoftim that we read yesterday is very indicative of this feeling of consolation. Here is the summary from the Artscroll Chumash:
.•• Haftaras Shoftim Isaiah 51:12 – 52:12
The prophet alternates between vivid descriptions of suffering and lyrical evocations of joy and fulfillment for this is a microcosm of Israel's history: no matter how dire the situation, hope is always at hand. Indeed, it is a principle of Israel's faith that the Messiah can come at any moment; and if so, while pondering the causes of exile and pain, we must always remember that G-d declares to us constantly, "It is I, I am He Who comforts you." The day will yet come when Israel will hear G-d calling out joyously to Jerusalem, "Wake up! Wake up! Don your strength, O Zion, don the garments of your splendor, O Jerusalem ... " Exile is most painful when there is no tomorrow, but not when we take to heart that G-d remembers us and longs for our return. Prophecies such as these have firmed Jews when their enemies tried to break them. Israel's national existence has always been brightened by the knowledge that G-d is close at hand, longing for us to let Him bring the herald to proclaim, "Peace!" "Good!" "Salvation!"We can feel confident that these prophecies of the seven weeks are happening and being fulfilled now.