The Shabbat of Comfort

Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of comfort is named after the Haftarah reading from the book of Yishayau which begins with the words "Nachamu nachamu ami", "Comfort comfort my people".

This Shabbat is the first of the seven weeks of consolation after the destruction of the Beit Ha Mikdash.

The root of the Hebrew word for comfort "Nachem", nun-chet-mem can refer to comforting the nation after the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash as well as to comforting an individual after the death of a loved one.

When we visit a person who is sitting shiva, we say that we are going to be "Menachem Avel", comforting the bereaved. Starting today, the month is no longer called "Av", rather it is called "Menachem Av", the comforted month of Av.

When we leave a house of mourning, we console the mourner by saying "HaMakom yinachem etchem betoch shaar avlei Tzion V'Yerushalayim", "May God console you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem". We actually link the mourner with the larger Jewish community as well as the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

Too often, we are faced with a communal state of mourning. These past few days and weeks, each time an Israeli soldier or civilian was kidnapped or killed the entire community of Israel was in a state of mourning. The personal loss became a communal loss.

There are many similarities in the way that we mourn for a loved one and in the way that we mourn for the Beit HaMikdash.

On Tisha B'Av we are restricted in all of the same ways that a person sitting shiva is restricted including sitting on a low stool, not wearing leather shoes and not greeting people.

The seven weeks of comfort following Tisha B'Av are similar to the shiva period, the seven days of comfort.

This weeks Haftarah begins with the words "Comfort, comfort my people says God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem".

Eben Ezra comments: Speak nicely, remove sorrow and worry and proclaim to her that her time has been fulfilled.

There is a limit to how much suffering we must endure.

Let's hope and pray that the prophecies of comfort from the upcoming haftarot will be fulfilled speedily in our day and that peace will return to the Land of Israel.