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Five Comforting Quotes From Nachamu, Isaiah’s Prophecy of Comfort

July 19, 2019 11:16 AM

Dear Readers,

This Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu, called by the first words of the day’s haftarah, prophetic reading, Nachamu, nachamu ami,“ Comfort, comfort My people … ,” consoling the Jewish people for our suffering during exile. This is the first of seven haftarahs of consolation, leading up to the Jewish New Year.

Here are five of my favorite passages from this reassuring prophecy.

1. “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your G‑d.

Isaiah foretells a salvation that is so great; it will finally end all the tears of exile.

One explanation for the double, “comfort, comfort” is that we are assured that not only will we be comforted at the time of redemption, but we will also see the value in all that we have endured and how it has made us into greater spiritual beings.

2. Speak consolingly to the heart of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her period of exile has been completed, that her iniquity has been forgiven, for she has received double for all her sins from the hand of G‑d.

This cannot possibly mean that the Jewish people received more punishment than they deserved, for G‑d is just. However, G‑d’s consolation will be so enormous it will be as if we had suffered twice as much than we actually did. (Targum)

3. Every valley will be raised, and every mountain and hill will be lowered; the crooked will become straight and the heights will become valley. The glory of G‑d will be revealed ...

On a literal level, this means that a clear and straight path will be formed for the Jewish people as G‑d leads us back from exile.

The Talmud (Nedarim 55a) explains that those people who consider themselves high and mighty will be lowered, and those who act humbly will be raised. Our persecutors who were high like mountains will see their downfall, while we who have been exiled will finally be raised. (Abarbanel)

On a personal level, this can mean that we will realize that those who act haughty and powerful are not so in G‑d’s eyes, but rather those who walk humbly, trying their best to do His will, are truly worthy.

4. He is like a shepherd who grazes his flock, who gathers the lambs in his arms, who carries them in his bosom, who guides the nursing ewes.

Like a shepherd tends to the special needs of each animal, G‑d affectionately cares for of each of us, giving us not more than we can handle, finding us when we stray and gently leading us back.

5. Raise your eyes on high and see Who created these! He brings forth their legions by number, He calls to each of them by name; by the abundance of His power and by vigor of His strength, not one is missing.

When we look up, we see G‑d’s breathtaking heavenly bodies. Yet, despite our universe’s immense vastness, G‑d “calls each by name,” assigning a specific purpose to every created being. (Radak)

If G‑d fondly watches every inanimate body, how much more is His love for each of us, His children, ensuring that we will accomplish our purpose, and that none of us will ever “go missing.”

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Three Thoughts I Will Focus on in This Month of Av

July 19, 2019 10:59 AM

Dear Readers,

We are now in the month of Av, approaching Tisha B’Av, the day when both Holy Temples were set aflame, we were dispersed to exile, and G‑d’s presence was no longer openly manifest. This is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

Here are three thoughts that I will focus on during this month of Av, and in particular, on the fast of Tisha B’Av.

Just as anxiety is meant to agitate us into action, darkness, too, must be used as a springboard to acquire greater fortitude, faith and growth. Difficult circumstances highlight the hidden potency of our inner souls and bring out their greatness.

The month of Av is the darkest month on our calendar—a time of fasting, mourning and depriving ourselves of pleasurable activities. And, yet, we are also told that this is the month that Moshiach will be born, meaning the harshest month contains the seeds for the greatest, most beautiful and enduring redemption.

This month is called Av, which means “Father,” because only a father can look you in the eye with a tenderness that says you are straying, and that it’s time to return. Only a parent can punish without alienating—his love hidden, but still apparent.

Even while we are in exile, the Shechinah (the Divine presence) is there with us, accompanying us, holding our hands through our suffering, wiping our tears and awaiting a better time for us. The Kabbalists describe the Shechinah’s cries as a mother who mourns being separated from her child.

Remembering that the pain of destruction is part of declaring our certainty, faith and resilience in there being a better future, and motivating us towards making that a reality. After we grieve, we need to move forward from our pain and sorrow into deed and action, doing whatever we can to create a better tomorrow.

Although any time is opportune, this is an especially great month for doing random acts of kindness and bringing more love into the world. The Temple was destroyed because of wanton hate; we can rebuild our world with unconditional love and random acts of kindness.

Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast, and wishing that this Tisha B’Av be transformed into a day of celebration!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.
Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.
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