Va’etchanan is always read on the Shabbat following Tisha Be’Av (9th of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, marking terrible calamities, including the destruction of both Sanctuaries (Temples)). This Shabbat begins a special period of 7 weeks: every week we read a Haftarah of consolation, proclaiming the redemption and describing the bliss of the Messianic era which will console us from the pains of the galut. They are called the “Seven (Haftarot) of Consolation.”

The first of these is on the Shabbat of Va’etchanan. This Shabbat is called Shabbat Nachamu, because its Haftarah begins “Nachamu nachamu ami-Comfort, comfort My people, says your G‑d” (Isaiah 40:1). Our sages explain the double wording: “They were stricken doubly... and they are comforted doubly.”

The Midrash notes that these seven Haftarot follow in an ascending sequence, indicated by their opening verses. In the first, the prophets are told to console Israel: “Comfort, comfort My people.” In the second Israel says: “G‑d has forsaken me” (Isaiah 49:14), i.e., the comfort of the prophets is not enough. In the third, the prophets report this to G‑d by describing Israel as “Afflicted, storm-tossed, disconsolate” (Isaiah 54:11). In the fourth, G‑d responds: “It is I, I Myself, who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12); and so forth.

This raises a question:

If there is an ascending sequence, why start off with a double expression of comfort? It should have begun with a singular consolation, to which another is added later on! However, this comes to teach us the following:

The essential bond between Israel and G‑d is fully intact at the very beginning of these seven weeks. It is there, in its wholeness, right after Tisha Be’Av and the preceding 3 weeks of mourning. Indeed, this bond between the very essence of the soul and the very essence of G‑d, is noted precisely at that low-point of galut.

The starting-point of “comforted doubly” is rooted in that bond. Thus it allows for the ever-intensifying consolation to follow on a manifest level.

The manifest experience of all the levels of redemption is achieved by following the model of “comforted doubly”: doubling the achievements of our personal service of G‑d as well as of our involvements with others. Regardless of our present status-indeed, even at a low-point-we can and must double our efforts, thus to merit the immediate “Comfort, comfort My people,” by “It is I, I Myself, who comforts you!”