Shabbos Nachamu Nachamu Ami
Tiere Reb Pinchas, Askonim, Family & Friends Sheyichyu
שלום וברכה 😊
Our Parsha this week is Parshas VoEschanon. One of the special parts of the Parsha is the Aseres HaDibrois we heard at Har Sinai! The Minhag is to stand up and face the Toiroh while the Aseres HaDibrois are read. :)
This Parsha is always read on the Shabbos after Tisho B'Ov, and the Haftoirah begins with "Nachamu Nachamu Ami" - Be consoled, be consoled, My people - which is why this Shabbos is called “Shabbos Nachamu." The Three Weeks of Calamities and Destruction the Yidden suffered are over and now we begin the Seven Weeks of Consolation, when Hashem comforts the Yidden, starting with His words through Yeshayo HaNovi: "Nachamu Nachamu Ami, Yoimar Eloikeichem" - Be consoled, be consoled, My people, says Your G-d.
The Medrash explains the repetitive consolation (Nachamu Nachamu), saying "Loku BeKiflayim, UMisnachaim BeKiflayim" - They were doubly stricken, and they were doubly comforted.”
What Exactly is a Double Comfort?
There are two stories in the Gemoro, both about Rabbi Akiva, which also describe consolation using similar repetitive phrasing.
Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elozor ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoishua, and Rabbi Akiva were walking on their way to Rome, when sounds of partying and laughter reached them from a Roman city in the distance. The first three Tanno’im began weeping, but Rabbi Akiva laughed! They said to Rabbi Akiva “Why are you laughing?!” to which Rabbi Akiva responded “Why are you crying?”
They said to him: “These gentiles, who bow to false gods and burn incense to idols, dwell securely and in tranquility, while for us the House of Hashem, the Bais HaMikdash, is burnt - should we not cry?!” Rabbi Akiva said to them “That is why I‘m laughing! If this (the laughter and enjoyment) is given to those who violate the will of Hashem, how much more is in store for those who do the will of Hashem!
Another time, these same Tano’im were going up to Yerusholayim. When they reached Har Tzoifim, the first spot from which the site of the Bais HaMikdosh is visible. They tore their clothes, as Halocho requires.
When they reached the Har HaBayis, where the Bais HaMikdosh once stood, they saw a fox emerge from the site of the Kodshai HaKodoshim - the Holy of Holies - which had once housed the Oroin HaBris and the Luchois within it.
The first three Tano’im began weeping, but Rabbi Akiva laughed! They said to Rabbi Akiva “Why are you laughing?!” to which Rabbi Akiva responded “Why are you crying?”
They said to him: “This is the place that is so holy that the Toiroh says "ViHaZor HaKoroiv Yumos" - if someone not fit to go in, enters, they will die. Now foxes wander there - should we not cry?!” Rabbi Akiva said to them “That is why I’m laughing! The Novi Yishaya links two other Nevi’im, when he says in the name of Hashem ‘Faithful witnesses will testify for me: Uryah HaKoihein and Zichariah ben Yivorachya.’ But Uryah was in the time of the first Bais HaMikdosh and Zichariah in the time of the second. Why are they linked?”
Rabbi Akiva explained to the other Tano’im: They are linked because the fulfillment of the prophecy of the second is dependent on the fulfillment of the prophecy of the first. Uriah said that Tziyoin will be plowed like a field (where animals like foxes may roam). Zechariah spoke of the rebuilding of Yerusholayim.
Until Uriah’s Nevu’oh was fulfilled, I feared the Nevu’oh of Zechariah would not be fulfilled. Now that we see for ourselves the utter destruction and defilement of the Holy of Holies, the fulfillment of Uriah’s prophecy, I am certain that the prophecy of Zechariah about the rebuilding of Yerusholayim and our Geuloh Shlaimoh will also be fulfilled (in the strongest way)!
Hearing this, they said to Rabbi Akiva "Akiva Nechamtonu, Akiva Nechamtonu" - Akiva you have consoled us, Akiva you have consoled us. They repeated themselves because they were doubly consoled, and by looking a bit deeper into their story, we will have a better insight into what “double consolation” means and what Nachamu, Nachamu is all about.
A Deeper Look
Rabbi Akiva’s counter-question seems unusual. Why would he ask, “Why are you crying?” It’s painfully obvious why the laughter of those who destroyed the Bais HaMikdosh and the sight of a fox wandering out of the Koidesh HaKodoshim would prompt mourning and crying! Obviously, there is more to the two sides of this exchange than it seems at first.
We can only fully understand the story when we properly understand the difference of approach between Rabbi Akiva and the others, which lead to their different reactions. We also need to understand their eventually agreement with Rabbi Akiva. Even though Rabbi Akiva explained his reasoning in the first story, it is only by the second story that they accept his words and take (double) consolation in them.
The explanation is given as follows:
In the first story they were on the way to Rome in order to nullify Gezairois against the Yidden. They were very cognizant that Rome was the superpower, but that itself didn't cause them to cry. Hashem would only allow a superpower like Rome to conquer the Yidden and exile them. This was for their sake, to protect their honor - the shame of being conquered by a weak opponent would have been greater.
The sounds of the Romans making merry at that point, though, brought them to tears. The Bais HaMikdosh had already been destroyed. The power of Rome was no longer necessary for the Yidden’s sake. At this point it was just a (disgrace to the Yidden and, more importantly, a) desecration of Hashem’s Holy Name! It was a disgrace that maybe had to be stomached in one context but here it was out of that context!
The same applied to the second story, when they saw a fox emerge from the Koidesh HaKodoshim. The prophecy said “Tzion will be plowed over like a field," but that could have been fulfilled in another place of the Bais HaMikdosh and not in a place of such sanctity as the Koidesh HaKodoshim!
The Upside to “Upside Down”
Rabbi Akiva didn’t disagree with their assessment. It’s truly a Chilul Hashem that Rome is secure and celebrating at a time when the Bais HaMikdosh is destroyed, but it’s not a reason to despair. In fact, it is an indication of greater good for those who do Hashem’s will. Rabbi Akiva saw in the success of Rome, and even in the Chilul Shaim Shoimayim and Shaim Yisroel, the good that it predicts! This has a benefit in the present - it provides the clarity and Koiach a Yid needs to overcome the adversity of Golus.
It’s the same in the second story: Faced with the prophecy of the Churbon being fulfilled in the fullest measure, Rabbi Akiva saw in the extreme defilement itself the proof that the prophecy of the Geulo will be fulfilled in the fullest and highest way!
This is why Rabbi Akiva chose the Nevuoh that “Tzion will be plowed over as a field" to describe the destruction. Plowing a field, turning the whole place upside down, looks destructive, but it doesn’t ruin the field - it’s the contrary! Plowing the field is itself good and necessary for the field to give a full harvest. The plowing brings more nutrients to the plants, and the more thoroughly the field is plowed, the better and more plentiful will be its harvest.
Just as the Novi describes it, Rabbi Akiva saw the Churbon as a plowing of the field, improving the harvest. Seeing the world turned upside, to the point that the Koidesh HaKodoshim was affected, showed Rabbi Akiva the extent of the “plowing,” a positive aspect in the harvest to be reaped in the Geuloh which, going by the plowing, would clearly be the ultimate goodness.
It Looks Bad, But What Does is it Mean? What is it for?
From the start, Rabbi Akiva took the perspective that the present needs to be seen in light of it’s contribution to the future. Since the Chilul Hashem now will result in a greater Kiddush Hashem in the future, it defined the present to the point that he laughed. The other Tano’im were focused on the present. Since there is a big Chilul Hashem now, the good that will come out of it later does not matter.
Rabbi Akiva’s response did not persuade them in the story of the celebrating Romans. The Chilul Hashem they were seeing in the moment, was only proof of the good to come, but not directly contributing to it.
The encounter with the fox emerging from the Koidesh HaKodoshim was a different story. Yes, they were witnessing the great depths of the Golus, but as Rabbi Akiva explained, this meant that the fulfilment of the promise of Geulo would also be to the greatest extent imaginable.
Unlike in the first story, here it was not only proof of the great Geuloh to come - the present moment itself was also a positive one. Like plowing a field is contributes directly to the great harvest, so too the depths of Golus, when the world is turned upside down, are not to be viewed as a destruction (albeit for a greater good to come), but as something that has good in it as well.
The other Tano’im want to see the good in the present and Rabbi Akiva’s explanation in this story showed it to them. That’s why here they agreed with him and thanked him for the double consolation: Consolation that the future would be good, #1, but more importantly, #2: Consolation in the present, that the Churbon itself is building to the Geulo, like the plowing that contributes to the abundant harvest.
Double Consolation for Us
This same double consolation is what Shabbos Nachamu is about: Consolation in the promise of Geuloh, and Consolation in a clear perspective on the present.
The present may seem difficult and chaotic. The world may be turned upside down, but it is not destructive. Just like plowing introduces new nutrients for the plants, Hashem gives us challenges in our lives to introduce “nutrients,” Koichois that we have buried deep within us, which directly contribute to our growth and closeness to Hashem when we reveal them and use them to overcome those challenges. It’s not just a preparation for a later harvest, it is improving us and connecting us more closely with Hashem now, in this moment...
This is the lesson we need to take from the double consolation of this Shabbos: Not only to see the good in store for the future, and not only to see the good is a result of adversity in the present, but to see the good that Hashem Yisboraich is doing in the present!
When we see the world like Rabbi Akiva, we can see the Geuloh in the Golus with such clarity that we are able to laugh, and then Hashem will make it easier to laugh by giving us clear and open goodness.
We need to see the potential we have to learn Toiroh and do Mitzvois and make the future live with us in the present, learning from Rabbi Akiva to activate the Koichois of our Neshomo that are not limited to who we are now and what we do in the present!
Learning to laugh is our part to prepare for the Geulo Kloli and our Geulo Proti when Hashem promises us that “Oz Yimolei Schoik Pinu” - at that time our mouths will be filled with joy and laughter.
YEHEE ROTZOIN FROM HASHEM YISBORAICH TO GIVE EVERY YID HIS AND HER GEULOH PROTI WITH OUR GEULOH KLOLI NOW WITH MOSHIACH TZIDKAINU :)
A GUTEN UN FRAILICHEN SHABBOS NACHAMU
PODOH BESHOLOM NAFSHI :) BESUROIS TOIVOIS :) DIDAN NOTZACH :)
UZI AILECHO AZAMAIROH, KEE ELOIKIM MISGABI, ELOIKAI CHASDI :)
Sholom Mordechai ben Avrohom Aharoin Halevi Sheyichye :)