This week’s haftorah1 is the first of seven consoling the Jewish people. After the Three Weeks of darkness and destruction, G‑d consoles us through the words of His prophet Isaiah. Each week, the consoling grows more and more powerful.2

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Nachamu because the haftorah starts with G‑d’s words to Isaiah: Nachamu, nachamu ami (“Console, console My nation”).3

Since this is the first haftorah of consolation, shouldn’t we begin with one nachamu—a basic level of comfort—and adding as we go in the coming weeks? What is the idea of starting off with a double expression of consoling?

A double expression such as nachamu nachamu means more than two. Rather, it is an expression of “muchness” in quality and quantity. Not only is this consoling of great intensity, but it is ongoing. And since this is the first in a series of seven, it sets the standard for all subsequent consoling yet to come.

In a few weeks, we will read in a haftorah with another double expression. Whereas now G‑d is asking His prophets to console us, there He will take it to a new level. “I, it is I Who consoles you,”4 says G‑d. This double “I” is G‑d saying that His comfort comes from the deepest part of His essence. Even deeper than the giving of the Ten Commandments, which begins with only one “I,” “I am the L‑rd your G‑d.”5 This is because when Moshiach comes and we will experience G‑d’s consoling, it will be even greater than what we saw at Mount Sinai. It will be G‑d’s deepest essence.6

It is true. Following the devastation that befell our people during the Three Weeks, one would think: “Take it slow; first console a little and see if the people can handle so much.” But we Jews know that we are always close to G‑d; even in times of exile and darkness, He is one with us. With the double nachamu, G‑d is saying: “You can handle a full measure of comfort with all its intensity.”

This is especially relevant now when we are so close to the coming of Moshiach, and darkness is doubled. We must realize that only our physical existence is in exile. Our spiritual essence, however, is always free and one with G‑d. One day we will see the fruits of our labor—a double comfort as the physical will also be set free, and our bodies will experience G‑d’s essence as well. As our haftorah says”7 “And G‑d’s glory will be revealed, and all flesh together will see that the mouth of G‑d spoke.”8

My wife, Dina, asked me: “When every month you were losing more and more abilities to ALS, you just said, ‘Let’s figure out how to deal with it.’ How come it didn’t seem to faze you?”

I responded, simply, that I was crazy.

But the truth is that I am certain that G‑d is doing this to me for a good reason, and I feel like He has chosen me for a specific mission. I don’t necessarily like being unable to do anything and I surely don’t wish this on anyone, but if He put me in this situation, then I will use it to accomplish His mission. Soon, this mission will be complete, and the difficult situation will be unnecessary.

The same is true for all of us in this exile. G‑d has chosen us to accomplish His deepest desire. He put us here, in this dark exile, to accomplish this mission because it can only be accomplished here. Very soon, because of our efforts, the mission will be accomplished, and we will reap the rewards. This exile will end, and we will be truly consoled, forever.

May it happen soon.