13.08.2011 13.Aw-Elul, 5771 Wa'etchanan
'…but make them known unto thy children and thy children's children' (Vaethanan; Deuteronomy 4:9).
“[Nahamu] Comfort you, comfort you, my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1-26)
This Shabbat, Va’et’hanan – following the fast of the Ninth of Av memorial for the destruction of both Holy Temples (586 BCE and 70 CE) – is called Shabbat Nahamu, from the opening words of the haftara prophetic portion cited above.
But when one tries to imagine the enormity of the tragedy – the loss of the central shrine of our nation, the abject defeat of Jewish national sovereignty in Israel, the cold-blooded murder of millions of Jews, the disappearance of an entire religious way of life that was built upon a complex and inspiring sacrificial system, and the beginning of an exile to all four corners of the world, filled with persecutions and pogroms that would culminate in the horrors of the Holocaust – one cries out in hopeless anguish, “What idea can possibly evoke comfort? What human action can possibly begin to bring balm to soothe the broken hearts of a dismantled and demoralized people?”…