Nachamu (Moshe Mendlowitz)

July 23, 2021

This week’s haftorah is the first of the Shivah D’nechemta that will take us through to Rosh Hashanah. First and foremost, when we read the words “Nachamu Nachamu Ami,” we must understand that the Navi is truly directing his words to us, now, Shabbos Nachamu 5781. In our Tishah B’Av post we touched on the fact that Tishah B’Av is considered a moed. We asked the obvious question: Tishah B’Av is hardly a day of joy and celebration; in fact, it is the saddest day on the calendar! So how can we even think of it as a holiday? What is there to celebrate?

The Chasam Sofer points out an interesting anomaly. Other than Klal Yisroel, we don’t find any nation crying over tragedies of their past. Romans do not have a day on which they sit on the floor and cry about the former glory of the now-defunct Roman Empire. There is no day on which the Iranians fast, mourning the world power that had once been the Persian Empire. Why is it that the Jewish people are the only nation that is able to cry for devastation that happened two millennia ago?

Legend has it that when the diminutive dictator Napoleon Bonaparte reached Yerushalayim en route to his world conquest, Hashem orchestrated events so he arrived on Tishah B’Av at the Makom HaMikdash, the location where the Beis Hamikdash had stood. He witnessed Jews sitting on the floor of what had been the Temple, crying and mourning its absence. Napoleon could not fathom why grown men would be sitting on the floor, weeping. In response to his disbelief, the mourners informed him that they were grieving over the Beis Hamikdash that had stood on that very spot and that had been destroyed on that date.

When Napoleon asked when this Churban had actually taken place, he was told that it had transpired seventeen hundred years previously. He was shocked. He couldn’t believe that they were crying over an event that had occurred so many years earlier – a few years after the death of a person, even his relatives no longer shed any tears, he reasoned. Said Napoleon, “If you are still crying after so long, if you are still in pain… then your Temple most certainly must still be alive.”

After people experience a loss r’l, as time passes, they eventually forget some of the pain. The hurt eases and people can eventually move on. However, just as Yaakov Avinu could not be consoled after hearing of Yosef’s demise because really Yosef was still alive, the same is true here. The fact that after nearly two thousand years we have not forgotten the Beis Hamikdash and we are still able to cry over its absence, demonstrates that the Beis Hamikdash is still alive.

The Romans can’t cry over the loss of their empire because their empire is dead. It is gone forever. The Persians and Babylonian Empires of antiquity can no longer be mourned – their empires have passed away and are gone forever. Their kingdoms are never coming back. We, however, can continue to feel the pain of the Churban; we can continue to mourn its loss because we are Am Yisroel Chai and the Beis Hamikdash is still very much alive. The Third Beis Hamikdash has already been built by Hashem, and when He gives us the signal, the complete structure will descend from the sky.

With this understanding, writes the Chasam Sofer, we can appreciate the fact that Tishah B’Av itself is the celebration. The fact that we are able to weep and mourn over the loss is testimony to the Beis Hamikdash still being alive and well. And therein lies the nechama of Shabbos Nachamu as well. The consolation IS Tishah B’Av. The more we are able to grieve on Tishah B’Av, the more we feel the loss of the Beis Hamikdash, the more alive the Beis Hamikdash is to us. That is our nechama. As we cry, as we lament, as we weep over its absence, we realize that our doing so is proof that it is actually still alive. It is still here, and, with Hashem’s help, we will soon witness its return to Yerushalayim.

There was much deliberation when it came to a song choice today. I went back and forth between an older song and a newer song and in the end, I decided to go with the newer of the two. Nachamu was composed by song-writing businessman and philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz and was part of an album that was given out to the guests who attended his daughter’s wedding in January of 2018. It is sung by the impassioned vocalist Moshe Mendlowitz, and was recently re-released for the 2021 hit album Shir 3.

The Rokeach points out, נחמו נחמו has the same gematria as אליהו (x4). This Shabbos, Shabbos Nachamu combined with the tremendous ahava of Tu B’Av, we especially hope and pray that Eliyahu comes and gives us the nechama we are truly waiting for.

Wishing each of you a Shabbos Nachamu of solace and a Tu B’Av of love.

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