A belated mazal tov to my niece Rochel Leah (née Shonek) and her husband Shua Greenwald on the birth of daughter, Yenta Rivkah (Rikki – and on their 6th wedding anniversary, while I'm at it.) Mazal tov to the extended Shonek, Bulka and Greenwald families.
Today, the 15th of Av, marks the 13th yahrtzeit of my Opa, Mr. George Jakobovits. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a"h.
Although the yearly Torah reading cycle has not always followed its current pattern, it has a tendency to have the parshah of the week correspond quite neatly with the calendar. For example, we read Moshe Rabbeinu's exclamation of "Eichah!" in Parshas Devarim (1:12) which always falls on the Shabbos before Tish'ah B'Av. We always read Parshas Nitzavim, which speaks of teshuvah, as we approach Rosh HaShanah and the aseres yemei teshuvah. This week is known as Shabbas Nachamu, after the beginning of this week's haftarah which begins with the words "Nachamu, nachamu ami..." be comforted, be comforted My nation. The haftarah is specifically directed at the theme of comfort and consolation, but surely, this theme should present itself in the parshah as well. If anything, Va'eschanan deals with more ominous circumstances as it is the source for the reading on Tish'ah B'Av, discussing the various repercussions of straying from the path. There seems to be no mention of the week's theme whatsoever.
Perhaps, the theme is hinted to in the very passage that is read on Tish'ah B'Av. After reading of all the terrible consequences of our evil deeds, we are assured (4:29-31)
"And from there, you will beseech HaShem, your God, and you shall find, if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. Amidst your tribulations when these things have been visited upon you, in the end of days, when you shall return to HaShem, your God, and listen to His voice. For Hashem, your God, is a merciful God, He will not forsake you and He will not destroy you, nor will He forget the covenant of your fathers which He has sworn to them."
These words remind us, after we have mourned the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash which came about as a result of our awful sins, that no matter how deep we sink, no matter how much it seems that HaShem has distanced Himself from us, we may always return at a moment's notice and HaShem will answer us. This passage encourages us never to lose hope amidst our exile, as HaShem will never forsake us, a veritable paradigm of the theme of "Nachamu." As well, its presence in the reading for Tish'ah B'Av fits nicely with the theme we discussed (on a different occasion) – that Tish'ah B'Av is not just about mourning the destructions of the past but about looking forward and focusing on rebounding from our tragedies towards a path to redemption.
Have a good Shabbos.