by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami…
This week starts the first of the 7 comforting Haftorahs. We launch it with the words of Yishayahu HaNavi said in the streets of Yerushalayim.
Being joyous and celebrating Shabbos Nachamu is a custom with deep historical roots. The Maharil in his Minhagim (27) explains that the entire nation should rejoice on this special Shabbos. He further writes that we should express our faith and conviction in the arrival of the redeemer who will surely comfort us.
TREAT THIS SHABBOS DIFFERENTLY
Because of this, it is worthwhile to treat this Shabbos differently than another Shabbos. Indeed, the Sefer entitled Drashos Even Shoiv (Parshas VoEschanan) states that we should treat Shabbos Nachamu like a Yom Tov. This Sefer was written by a student of the Rashba.
MAKE YOM TOV FOOD
The Ritvah (Taanis 30b) indicates that the food preparations on this Shabbos should be like Yom Tov – in other words, the food should be more elaborate than for a regular Shabbos. Many Shuls recite special Piutim on Shabbos Nachamu as well.
Shabbos Nachamu also represents the first of the seven Shabbaths of consolation that is to come prior to Rosh haShana. But aside from being the first, Shabbos Nachamu is different than the others. Of all the seven, it is only Shabbos Nachamu which contains this remarkable “Yom Tov” nature.
Another aspect of the Yom Tov nature of Shabbos Nachamu lay in the fact that the Torah reading is always Parshas V’Eschanan – when we lein the Aseres haDibros – the Ten commandments. This is a convention enacted by Chazal. The Chofetz Chaim (in his Biur Halacha to Orech Chaim 428) explains that this was enacted so that during the week immediately before Tisha B’Av we can read the reproach of both Moshe Rabbeinu in Parshas Dvarim as well as that of Isaiah in the Haftorah.
Certainly, this is an important reason, to enable us to get the most out of Tisha B’Av and help direct our Teshuvah.
NO SIMCHA LIKE TORAH
But perhaps there is another reason, as well. Chazal tell us that there is no Simcha, there is no joy like Torah. Last week we read Yisamach Yisachar beOhalo – Yissachar, he who dedicated himself to Torah study will rejoice in his tent. The Abarbanel, as others, explains that there is no Simcha, there is no joy like the joy of Torah. This then may be another reason for why Shabbos Nachamu is always on Parshas VoEschanan.
The reading of the Aseres haDibros gives us joy. It uplifts, nourishes, restores.
WE ARE DIFFERENT – WE ARE ONLY HAPPY THROUGH TORAH
There is something different about Klal Yisroel – The collective neshama of the Torah nation is configured with a different operating system – one that finds joy and meaning in Torah itself. We are only truly happy, we only thrive on account of Torah.
We have just witnessed grave tragedies. The day that commemorates the destruction of both palaces of Hashem – the batei HaMikdash. We have just suffered losses unprecedented in our collective memories. Klal Yisroel needs a reprieve, a salve for our affliction and ailments. There is no better salve than that of Torah, and the receiving of it.
Many have the minhag to immerse in the Mikvah on Shabbos Nachamu – even those who do not do normally on a Shabbos morning. And, of course, the Minhag is to honor the Rav of the Shul with the Aliyah of the reading of the Aseres HaDibros (See Mogain Avrohom 428:8). These Minhagim reinforce the joy and exhultation of the day.
LET’S SERVE HASHEM WITH HAPPINESS
It is suggested that just as the Chofetz Chaim tells us that this special enactment was made so that the Haftorah will inform the impending day of Tisha B’Av, so too should we look at this Haftorah to inform how we conduct ourselves. We should once again serve Hashem in happiness. The period of mourning is over, and we should once again find the joy in our lives.
As in every Yom Tov, indeed, in every venue of human endeavor, the more we prepare for something the more meaning we ultimately can derive from it.
Rav Yeruchem Olshin Shlita in his newest Sefer cites a fascinating Chasam Sofer. Rosh HaShana is around the corner. Why during these seven weeks are we just focusing on Hashem consoling us and why are we not focusing on Teshuvah? The Chasam Sofer answers that the very best way to do Teshuvah is to focus on Hashem’s intense love of Klal Yisroel. This will bring us to do a real and genuine Teshuvah. This prepares us properly for Rosh haShana.
So, while it is still early, let’s go out and shop for a few extra delicacies for Shabbos nachamu. Let’s hug our children. Let’s enjoy our older relatives. Let’s be tolerant of the foibles of others. Let’s appreciate the gifts that HaKadosh Boruch Hu bestowed upon us – especially the gift of Torah that is embodied in the reading of the Aseres HaDibros. And most importantly – Nachamu, nachamu Ami.