Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 3rd 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 37 –15th of Av 5772
Was it only just a week ago that we were sitting on the floor and crying over the destruction of our heart and soul, the Bais HaMikdash-our temple, not yet rebuilt? After a full week of summer vacation- touring, kayaking, hiking throughout our beautiful country, it seems like moons ago. For those that were fortunate enough to be part of the hundreds of thousands that participating in the grand Siyum Ha’Shas the completion of the 7 ½ year cycle of the daily study of a folio of Talmud I’m sure Tisha’a B’av feels long gone. (for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to participate in one yet make sure to come this Thursday evening to Heichal Shlomo for the Young Israel English Siyum in Jerusalem, see below for details,- a brief shameless plug by our sponsors and now back to your regular E-Mail programming J). Have we moved on already? Have we forgotten about the reality that we were hoping for that still hasn’t come?
This Shabbos is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the first of the 7 weeks of comfort in which we read a selection of the prophets each Shabbos for the Haftorah that offer words of consolation to the Jewish people over our loss. It’s our Shiva- so to speak; the time when Hashem, who understands our souls and the tragedy we endured on Tisha B’Av much deeper than we do, tells us that we need to be comforted. How sad is it when someone comes to pay a grieving mourner a Shiva call and he finds out that the mourner is out on the beach. Yet, to be fair to us summer vacation frolickers (and of course not to take business away from those faithful tour guides- www.ourholylandtours.com check it out J- shameless plug number 2- it’s Olympic season when commercials are at a premium give me a breakJ J) and for those of you that might be feeling guilty, we are not meant to be mourning now either. The mourning is over. It ended the day after the fast. So on one hand there is Shiva on the other hand we are not mourning. What is the season all about? Are we meant to move on, or are we meant to still be reflecting and receiving consolation?
The answer I believe can be found in the strange repetition of the opening words of this week’s Haftora- Nachamu Nachamu Ami- Console, console my people- Says Hashem. The Maharsha, the classic 17th century Talmudic commentary, notes that in many places when our sages comfort they repeat the phrase twice-“Kol Hanechamot B’Lashon Kaful-all consolations are expressed in a language repitively” The classic case he refers to is the famous story of Rabbi Akiva and the sages who when upon seeing foxes run through the temple ruins had different reactions. The sages burst out wailing and Rabbi Akiva began to laugh. Perplexed they turned to him and he explained that just as they were mourning as they see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah ”foxes in the ruins” in that destruction, he sees in that a sign that the prophecy of its eventual rebuilding and the return to the temple will be assured as well. The rabbis then respond “You have comforted us Akiva, You have comforted us, Akiva”.
Rabbi Akiva laughed. He saw the ruins, the burnt remains of the Temple that he used to pray at and where the offerings and the Divine presence were centered around for so long. He saw the destruction and the later failed return of Bar Kochva, and he laughed. For Rabbi Akiva understood what consolation and mourning were all about. Rabbi Akiva understood that in the ruins of the temple lie the beginning of the rebuilding. Our mourning is our consolation. Our connection of Tish’a B’Av gives us the strength and direction to move forward.
When one sits Shiva, it because he is beset with a sudden tragedy; the loss of a close relative. The process of shiva and the mourning for thirty days and the whole year that follows is one that helps a person adjust to the new reality of life without that individual. He needs time to absorb the loss and heal. When it comes to the Temple, the opposite takes place. We build up our mourning from the three weeks before. We work towards that day when we fully appreciate the gravity of our lives without the Temple…without the nearness of Hashem. Once that is over though, like Rabbi Akiva we can be doubly consoled. We must focus on the laugh, on the knowledge of redemption still to come. We are consoled doubly. Once by the fact that we know that our souls were still alive enough to feel that pain-our mourning was successful, and secondly that we know that if we were capable of still crying…still feeling that pain…still experiencing the longing to come home…than Hashem must feel that too. And He will come back and we will be united once again.
The consolation Isaiah tells us is Nachamu Nachamu Ami- Be comforted be comforted- my nation. You are still my nation. I haven’t left you. Be comforted for our loss. Be consoled in the knowledge that I have never left you. There maybe foxes jumping and dancing and building foreign places of worship on our once Holy Home that we shared together. But know that we will be together once again.
The next seven weeks until Rosh Hashana when we start fresh again are that time of comfort... When we appreciate and are strengthened and fortified by our shared destiny together that we know is soon on its way. The singing and dancing of the Jewish peoples renewed dedication this week to once again begin the study of the Talmud is the greatest testament to our power of laughter and the consolation Hashem has given us until that day. The tours we take together as a family and as a people, the serenity we try to achieve in the seven weeks before the High Holidays are part of the holiest work a Jew can do. We don’t move on and forget the past. Rather we take our work and our struggles and our pain and recognize that they themselves are the secret of our endurance. The key to our redemption…. So if you’re looking for a good tour guide this summer ….
Have a fantastically amazing Shabbos!!
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ COOL PLACES IN ISRAEL OF THE WEEK-
Metula- It’s summer time and as all good jews know you go to the north- no, I don’t mean the catskills (I know that there are jews outside fo new York that go other places- but New Yorkers don’t know that J)
Anyways in Israel the furthest North you can go is to the tip of Israel-or what is reffered to as the nail of the finger of the Galile the quaint little village of Metula. The city of Metula one of Israel’s early settlements was purchased from Lebanese Druze arabs from Baron Rothchilds foundation in 1893. A few years later 59 families moved there to work in the barons fields. After WWI Metula which is actually surrounded by the north, East and west by Lebanon was placed under French rule unlike most of Israel/Palestine which was under the British mandate. In fact from 1920-1924 the jews of Metula voted in the Lebanese parliament elections. Prior and during the independence war metula served as a transit base for the smuggling in of many “illegal” Jewish refugees under the pretense of “fake” weddings many were snuck to the center of the country after the celebrations.
The city was hit very hard during the Lebanese wars and even evacuated however today Metula is a great tourist site with its Canada Center Ice Skating Rink that hosts Israels hockey league (the Rangers, Islanders and Red Wings have nothing to worry about) as well as beautiful views and pleasant walks through the old Yishuv area.
RABBI SCHWARTZES VERY COOL LINK OF THE WEEK
Siyum HaShas at METLIFE STADIUM 95 THOUSAND JEWS CELEBRATE
THE WHOLE PROGRAM- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzZtjj0ICe0
(if you don’t have time to watch the who thing click on 11:00 minutes to see dancing.
32 minutes for cantorial piece memorial
41 minutes for shema together-)
AND OF COURSE IN HONOR OF SHABBAT NACHAMU
RABBI SHLOMO CARLBACH
NACHAMU AMI- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWWuYadWME0