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Parshas Vaeschanan

YomTov, vol. XIII # 4

Comfort Them . . .

By Rabbi Yehudah Prero

“Comfort them, comfort my people . . . “ (Yeshaya 40:1). So we read on the Shabbos immediately following Tisha B’Av and the conclusion of the Three Weeks. Comfort, consolation of the nation of Israel upon the destruction of the Holy Temples is the theme. Later in the book of Yeshaya (66:13) we find that “As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” We are told that the nation will be comforted. With the end of exile, with the rebuilding of the holy city of Jerusalem, we will find solace.

However, Rav Shimshon Pinkus notes, consolation does not logically follow from the restoration of Jerusalem to its glory. In Yirmiya, (31:8) we find that at the time when exile ends “They shall come weeping, and with supplications I will bring them. ” The nation of Israel will come weeping, because they will fully understand the enormity of the loss they have experienced during the years of exile. The diminution of stature of the leaders of the generation that has occurred over time, the loss of opportunity to perform multitudes of mitzvos, the reduction in quantity and quality Torah study – all of these plagued us during our years in exile. All of these are cause for grief.

How does the end of exile comfort us for these losses? Yes, we may have the Temple once again. Yes, we will not be dispersed amongst those who oppress us. These are definitely causes for happiness and celebration. But how does this provide comfort for what was lost? What was lost remains lost – it can never be recaptured. In the words of Koheles (1:15) , it is a situation where “that which is crooked cannot be made straight.” “Comfort,” in the true sense of the word, means that we have come to grips with the loss we experienced. We have accepted the void in our lives and come to peace with it, for whatever reason. How is it that the rebuilding of Jerusalem will provide us comfort over the losses and pain associated with the long exile we experienced?

The generation that experiences the end of exile will, as the verse cited above states, come weeping. They will do so because they know fully the impact exile had upon the nation. The nation, during years of exile, experienced decline. We ourselves are cognizant of the stature of generations lessening from one generation to the next. This is cause for sadness and mourning. And it is from this sadness and mourning that we will be comforted. With the end of the exile, Hashem will be saying to the people “I am with you. Yes, the generations that preceded you were on a different level, greater than you. Notwithstanding this fact, I am with you, you are with Me, and together our relationship will continue and develop.”

The emergence from exile will be a comfort, as the people at the time will realize that even with the loss and the pain, the nation was able to persevere. The nation will realize that every generation had its own purpose, its own goals to achieve, and its own unique relationship with G- d. The nation will recognize that after all the time in exile, G-d was with us, He enabled us to survive, and He brought us to the present moment in time. Jerusalem itself is not the comfort. The renewed opportunity to experience service in the Holy Temple is not the comfort. The knowledge that G-d was always with us, will always be with us, and has brought us to where we are is what will allow us to come to come to peace with what occurred during exile, and we will be comforted.

May we merit experiencing this solace, speedily, in our days.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yehudah Prero and Torah.org.

The author has Rabbinic ordination from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, NY.


 


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