Believe In Yourself!
Every Shabbos Jews read a small section of the Torah – The Five Books of Moses – followed by the Haftara – a small section from The Prophets. The rabbis usually selected a Haftara that was connected to the Torah reading in some fashion. But for the past three weeks, the Haftara has been related to the prophecies of death, destruction, and exile around the time of the first Temple in Jerusalem (957 to 587 BCE), which culminated in Tisha B’Av (this year on Sunday July 18th).
The next 7 haftaras are also not connected to the weekly Torah reading, and are known collectively as the Seven of Consolation. The first of these seven begins this week with the famous opening words “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami“:
“Comfort, comfort my people – says your G-d. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her…”
- Why the double language of “comfort, comfort”?
- “Speaking” is normally done to someone close, but “calling” is done to someone far away. Usually, one would call someone to draw them close and then speak to them; why is the order here reversed?
To answer the second question first, G-d comes close to the Jewish people, and He says, “It is the time for the redemption!” But instead of jumping for joy, the Jewish people BACK AWAY. “NO, we’re not worthy of redemption. We’ve sinned too much!” So, with the Jewish people far away, G-d has to “call” to them, saying “Nachamu, nachamu” – “you have the ability to be comforted! I believe in you!”
Why the double language? The first “comfort” is G-d saying, “You should take comfort that I have forgiven you for your sins” and the second “comfort” is “I, G-d, am telling you that you have the power of redemption within yourself! Don’t give up. Have confidence in yourself!”
All Jews are human, and humans make mistakes. But unlike “liberals” of today who will “cancel” a person for a mistake made decades ago, our G-d is kind and compassionate and will forgive our mistakes. If a Jew repents properly, the past sin is wiped away forever!
How many Jews have sinned, and then said, “Rabbi, come on! There is no hope for me! I have committed EVERY sin in the Torah. Why should I even bother trying to repent because G-d would NEVER accept a person who sinned this much. When you look up the word ‘abomination’ in G-d’s dictionary, there probably is a picture of me next to the entry! There is no hope!”
But there is, and the words of “Comfort, comfort” should remind us that G-d loves us. He wants to comfort us. And he wants us to know that He never gives up on us.
And therefore, none of us should ever give up on ourselves!
(heard from Rabbi Mordechai Becher who quotes this in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.)