When people were unfair and unjust towards each other, Jewish society disintegrated. It became easier for the enemy to prevail.
The haftarah is insistent: if a better future is to be built, says Isaiah, the way is that of greater justice in society – “Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isa. 1:17).
If Zion is to be restored, the precondition is that “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her returning exiles with righteousness” (verse 27).
In many ways, for all its diversity and problems, today’s State of Israel has become a place of justice. People debate and grumble incessantly, but there is so much instinctive chesed, concern for and kindness to others, that it is breathtaking.
Also breathtaking, in a different sense, is the ferocity of some who should know better, who throw stones to force people to keep Shabbat. If you ask, “Is it permitted in Jewish law to throw stones on Shabbat?”, the right question is, “Is it permitted to throw stones even on weekdays?”
Chesed entails tzedek, justice, listening to the other point of view, seeing the other’s position, talking together with love, patience and respect, trying to persuade them if possible – but at all times knowing that they too are God’s children and part of b’rit goral, Israel’s covenant of destiny.