“Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem…” (Isaiah 40:1-2). That’s how last week’s haftarah began.
“Zion says, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, My Lord has forgotten me'” (Isaiah 49:14). That’s the opening of this week’s haftarah.
As we embark on a seven-week journey of consolation, following Tisha B’Av and leading into Rosh Hashanah, we’ll see that finding comfort isn’t easy. It comes in fits and starts, as the haftarah week after week echoes the reality of the human condition. Just because someone says “it’s okay now” doesn’t mean it’s okay, now or any time soon.
This has been a summer of personal and national trauma for us as Jews, as lovers and supporters of Israel. The ground element of Operation Protective Edge began in earnest just as I left for my month at camp, and one of the first people I saw upon arriving was a rabbi whose job was rosh mishlahat–leader of the group of Israelis who came to camp as emissaries of the State of Israel. My colleague’s task was to tend to the needs of young men and women who found themselves teaching songs and building campfires with American kids while their peers went off to defend the homeland. They were in need of comfort, but how could they find it?
Here’s one image of the way they sought comfort:
What have you done to find comfort during these painful days for Israel? On Shabbat morning, I’ll share more thoughts about the challenging weeks of nehemta, consolation, that lay ahead.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise