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Thought for the Day: After the Churban, A Love Story

The Shabbos after Tisha b'Av is "Shabbos Nachamu"; so called because of its haftara which begins, "nachamu, nachamu".  In fact, that Shabbos is only the first of seven Shabbosim of consolation; each with its own haftara.  The thing is, however, that taken one at at time there doesn't seem to be a lot of consolation here.  Yes, the first haftara does begin with those words, but on the heels of that exhortation from HaShem to the n'vi'im to comfort us is the sobering statement that we have been punished double for our sins.  Then the last one just seems to leap enthusiastically to ecstasy from no where.  To put things in context, here are the lead lines of those seven Shabbosim (all from Isaiah):
  1. 40:1   Nachamu, nachamu
  2. 49:14 And Tzion said, HaShem has forgotten me, my Lord has forgotten me.
  3. 54:11 O afflicted, storm-tossed, unconsoled one
  4. 51:12 It is I, I am He Who comforts you.
  5. 54:1  Sing out, O barren one!
  6. 60:1  Arise!  Shine! Your light has arrived!
  7. 61:10 I will rejoice intensely with HaShem, my soul shall exult with my G-d!
I saw a beautiful explanation of what Chazal are telling us in the Ha'Me'or Mikra'os G'dolos.  First, though, I need a flashback to set the mood... image wavery lines and going back in time music...  I have been through most of my chemotherapy.  My doctor came in to visit, as he often did during those long (5 - 6 hour) days getting chemo in his office.  He told me that no one who got the full treatment of chemo died from the cancer I had.  "You will have side effects and the recovery will take some time, but the cancer will be gone."  The tumor (roughly 10 lbs) was gone in just a few weeks, but the treatments extended over three grueling months.  Getting rid of the tumors is one thing, getting rid of the cancer is another.

Every drop of suffering in this world is nothing more (nor less) than a healing for our self-inflicted wounds and diseases; both spiritual and physical.  One of the scariest things about cancer is the worry of coming out of remission... meaning that some cancer was not destroyed and it could back in full fury.  Being told that the suffering has done its job, that no relapse is possible is the most comforting thing a doctor can tell a patient.

So why didn't klal yisrael respond with (7) immediately?  The ultimate source of all suffering, all sin, all confusion, is separation from HaShem.  At Har Sinai klal yisrael had appointed Moshe Rabeinu as their ambassador; they chose not hear Toras Chaim -- instructions for life -- from the Author of life Himself, but through an ambassador.  Now...
  1. HaShem now responds, mida k'neged mida, by telling the n'vi'im to be His ambassadors to bring comfort to His klal yisrael.
  2. Klal yisrael, having learned from her mistakes and wanting to set things right, laments that HaShem has sent emissaries... we want comfort from no one other than HaShem.  In fact, we now realize, there actually is no comfort except from HaShem.
  3. The n'vi'im deliver that message to HaShem; "They are not consoled.  They want only You!"
  4. HaShem begins to turn toward His beloved nation.
  5. Klal Yisrael begins to stir, to feel the divine presence.
  6. Klal Yisrael finally sees and feels the love that HaShem has always wanted them to experience.
  7. There nothing else now other than rejoicing and exultation.
Paradise given, paradise lost, paradise offered, paradise rejected, lessons learned, paradise desired, re-unification that can never again be lost.


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