Shabbat Nachamu shows power of comfort

BY RABBI BRIGITTE ROSENBERG

This week we observe Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat immediately following Tisha B’Av. (The date on which both the first and second Temples were destroyed.)

Tisha B’Av and the seven weeks preceding it offer us a time for reflection; time to reflect on the tragedies that have befallen our people, but also a chance to look ahead toward a positive future. So, it makes sense that as this period comes to an end, we find ourselves observing a Shabbat of Comfort. The Haftarah for this Shabbat comes from Isaiah. This Haftarah portion offers us words of comfort and consolation; words that call on us to maintain hope, despite the trials and tribulations that may be going on in our lives. The words remind us that no matter how hard or painful life becomes, if we trust in and have faith in God, we will find the right path.

The Haftarah opens with the words, “Nachamu, nachamu, ami, yomar El-hechem. Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God.”

What is interesting about this opening line is that God is not speaking words of comfort directly to the people; rather He is calling on Isaiah to offer the words of comfort to them. Thus we may ask ourselves, “Why did God not comfort the people Himself, why did He do it through a messenger?”

I believe that by utilizing a prophet, such as Isaiah, in His stead, God is teaching us a lesson, a lesson about who can comfort and what it means to give comfort.

By putting the power of comfort into Isaiah’s hands, God is essentially imbuing humanity with the ability and the power to comfort one another. God is also teaching us that comforting someone is not about having the power to compensate for loss or having the ability to change someone’s situation, but rather about being present, listening, and speaking words of comfort.

On this Shabbat Nachamu, this Shabbat of comfort, may each of us realize that we have been given a truly Divine gift, that God has given each one of us Divine strength to comfort another human being who is suffering and in pain. May we use this gift often and wisely and in turn, may we be comforted by others who share this gift with us.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg of United Hebrew prepared this week’s Torah Portion.

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