“Nachamu, nachamu ami — find comfort, find comfort my people. Your term of service is over; your iniquity expiated,” the Prophet Isaiah preached in this week’s haftarah portion (40:1-26). His words first offered comfort to the Judeans exiled to Babylon with the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. and remain relevant today. This being the first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av, the day of collective historical mourning on the Jewish calendar, we can all benefit from Isaiah’s words of consolation. Lamentations, read on that dark day, suggested that no comfort could ever be found; Isaiah assures us that is not the case. Return is always possible, he says; suffering won’t last forever.
These words bolstered our ancestors’ hopes in a dark time just as they begin to mentally and spiritually transition us from depths of history to the elation of Rosh Hashanah in seven week’s time. Just seven weeks until we bare our souls before God and humanity, praying for the return we hope possible. What miseries do we need to overcome, what comforts do we need to find to be ready for the Days of Awe ahead? “Nachamu, nachamu ami — find comfort, find comfort my people.”
– Rabbi Aaron Meyer