Acharon Shel Pesach
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
In the Haftorah for the eighth day of Passover, Isaiah describes the future redemption that will come about in the days of the Messiah. Just as the first day of Pesach celebrates our past redemption from our exile in Egypt, so too does the last day celebrate our future redemption from our current exile.
Isaiah describes a future peaceful world, a world in which even previously carnivorous animals will graze peacefully alongside their former prey. A world in which even “a wolf will dwell with the lamb.” The future redemption will be a dramatic transformation from a world filled with warfare, oppression and suffering to one filled with justice, unity and peace.
In Rabbi Israel Meir Lau’s book “Out of the Depths,” he quotes Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin. Why does this description about the animals seem so fantastic to us, almost unbelievable, he asks. After all, it did happen once — in Noah’s Ark. All the animals behaved themselves, and the predators did not hurt or eat their prey.
The difference is that in Noah’s Ark they lived together because they had no choice. They had to behave or be destroyed by the Flood. Therefore they controlled their instincts. But Isaiah speaks of a situation of choice. In the Messianic future, even when the animals will be able to attack each other, they will refrain from doing so.
Similarly, one day, all people will live together in peace out of choice. All human beings will live and cooperate with each other. May that day come soon.
Shabbat shalom and chag sameach.
Rabbi Eli Seidman is director of pastoral care at the Jewish Association on Aging. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.