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Wednesday, Menachem Av 12, 5781 / July 21, 2021


This Shabbat is the first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av and is called “Shabbat Nachmu” –  “Shabbat of comfort”. In the Torah we read Parshat Va’etchanan, which is always read on the Shabbat after Tisha B’Av.


Q.   Why is this Shabbat called, “Shabbat Nachmu - Shabbat of comfort”?


A.  The reason is that the Haftorah we read this Shabbat is the prophecy of Isaiah which begins with G-d’s words, “Comfort, comfort My people! Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and announce to her that her period of Exile has been fulfilled and her sins have been forgiven.”


The Prophet Isaiah continues, “G-d is coming to redeem you… G-d will lead you out of Exile like a shepherd pasturing his flock, who gathers the lambs with his arms and carries them in his bosom…”


The entire Haftorah speaks of the final redemption through Moshiach.  Although it has been 2000 years that we are awaiting the redemption, Jews have never given up. It is due to our profound belief in the coming of Moshiach that helped us get through all the difficulties of the past 2000 years of exile.


Our sages say that G-d’s measure of good is much greater than His measure of punishment. The three weeks leading up to the 9th of Av, when the Holy Temples were destroyed, are called “The Three Weeks of punishment.”  In contrast, there are seven weeks now, from this Shabbat until Rosh Hashana, which are called, “seven weeks of comfort.  Indeed, the measurement of comfort is greater than the measurement of sorrow.


This week’s Parsha, Vaetchanan, is the second Parsha in the Book of Deuteronomy.  In it, Moshe, just before his passing at the age of 120, tells the Jewish people how lucky they are to finally be going into the Holy Land. As for himself, Moshe tells them, although he prayed (“Vaetchanan”) many prayers that G-d let him enter into the Promised Land, it didn’t help. In fact, G-d told him to stop praying for the decree was sealed and he had to die in the desert.


Q.  Why, after all of Moshe’s prayers, didn’t G-d let him go into the Land of Israel?


A.   G-d hears every prayer. Our sages explain the reason G-d did not answer Moshe’s prayers to go into Israel, as follows:  A leader carries responsibility for the action of his people.  G-d entrusted Moshe to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt and bring them into Israel.  But Jews, unfortunately, did not have complete faith that G-d would come through on His commitment and that the land was as good as G-d promised.  They wanted to send scouts to check it out for themselves. Moshe went along and sent the scouts to spy the land. But, when the scouts came back with a negative report, the people refused to go to the Promised Land. 


G-d’s punishment was that they would die in the desert and only their children, who were under the age of twenty at that time, will go into Israel.  They stayed in the desert for 40 years, until all those not permitted to go into Israel, died.


Because Moshe was their leader and, in some way, also responsible for sending the scouts which resulted in them staying in the desert, he too, especially after his mistake of hitting the rock instead of speaking to it, had to die in the desert and be buried together with his people.  May it indeed be a Shabbat of comfort. Amen.