Va'etchanan – 5763
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810) is known as one of the most beloved figures in the history of Chassidut, and indeed of the Jewish People as a whole. He is particularly famous for defending the Jewish People before G-d, even as Moshe Rabbeinu, our first faithful shepherd, did many times during the 40-year period in the Wilderness. In the 2000-year period of the Wilderness of the Exile, the Jewish People had need many times for defenders, and in every generation, HaKadosh Baruch Hu has provided us with the leaders and advocates we’ve needed. One of the great works of Rav Levi Yitzchak was the “Kedushas Levi,” in which he writes his holy thoughts on each of the Parshiot in the Torah, on the Holidays and other special occasions.
The material below is a translation of some of what the “Kedushas Levi” writes about Shabbat Nachamu:
“Nachamu Nachamu ami yomar E-loheichem.”
When the time comes that Hashem, Blessed is He, will give us comfort, soon and in our days, He will remember for us all the tragedies that passed over us, so that the comfort will be in “double measure” (Eichah Rabbasi 1:6). And that is the connotation in this verse of the Name of G-d “E-lohim,” that signifies the Attribute of Strict Judgment (Compare Bereshis Rabbah 14:1).
Alternatively, we can explain the expression “Be comforted, be comforted...” as follows: From the very fact that we are being comforted by HaShem, May He be Blessed, this is an additional level of comfort. By analogy, it is not at all comparable hearing from an Officer of the Royal Court words of comfort and love, which are not perceived as real comfort until the actual receipt of favor from him. Whereas it is very different hearing words of comfort from the King himself, “whose will is like a cloud bearing the late rain” (Mishlei 16:15), whose promises are certainties, and when we hear words of comfort from him, our hearts rejoice.
Or we can say that the comfort is doubled, because we realize that all the events occurring in the world, even those that seem unrelated to us, occur for our benefit. “For such is G-d, our G-d...He will be our guide...”(Tehilim 48:15); meaning that “G-d,” Who is the Cause of all Causes, is “Our G-d,” for all the Causes in the world are for our benefit, as our Sages, Z”L, say in Mas. Sanhedrin 37a, “Each person is obligated to say, ‘It was for me that the world was created’ ” (compare Sefer HaLikutim Bereshis 3a). And that is the special meaning here of the expression “your G-d.”
Or we may explain the expression, “Be comforted be comforted My People, says your G-d.” For now, we must say “These themselves reflect His Might, that foreign nations dance wildly (Yoma 69b), and we are made to suffer oppression, causing the Divine Presence to say “I have pain...” For the “Dibbur,” Divine Speech, is in Exile, because of His great Restraint, for everything is done according to the Word of G-d, and thus, when He wills it, “Your G-d will speak.” And this is the significance of “On the 15th of Av, there came an end to the time that those in the Wilderness died” (Mas. Taanis 30b), meaning that the time of the “death” of the Divine Speech came to an end; meaning its removal and disablement (Zohar HaKadosh Part 3, 135b); then the end of the Divine Silence will occur, and the Message of Comfort will be spoken.
“Be comforted be comforted My People says your G-d.”
When the People of Israel acts in accord with the Will of G-d, He is called “Our G-d,” for by our actions we demonstrate that He is our G-d. And this is the explanation of the verse (Tehilim 67:7) “And G-d, our own G-d, shall bless us;” that is, that the Creator, May He be Blessed, shall bless us in that He will be called “our G-d.” This then is why the Prophet used the double expression “Be comforted! Be comforted!” And how? By that which Scripture says “That You will be called their G-d!”
al lev Yerushalayim... ki nirtzah avonah...”
The principle is that in the future time, the body will receive its pleasure from the Banquet of the Leviathan (Bava Basra 75a), but the heart will derive only spiritual pleasure, which will be when it hears the good news that its sins have been wiped away and that it has an abundance of Mitzvos to its credit. And this is the meaning of “for its sin is atoned for,” as our Sages Z”L have said (Maseches Yoma 86b), “Great is Repentance for it causes evil deeds to be converted to good deeds.” And “for its sin is atoned for” goes further and says that the sin becomes the “Ratzon,” the Will of HaShem; namely, a Mitzvah.
On Shabbos Nachamu we read the Ten Commandments and on Shavuos we also read the Ten Commandments. The reason is that on Shavuos the Holy One, Blessed is He, gave the Torah to the People of Israel and similarly, when our Righteous Mashiach comes, it is written (Yeshayahu 51:4), “...for a new Torah will come forth from Me...” Therefore the Ten Commandments are also read on Shabbos Nachamu.
“There were never such joyous holidays for the People of Israel as on the fifteenth of Av... “ (Maseches Taanis 26b).
This can be understood by considering the explanation of verse Shemos (17:8), “And Amalek came and did battle with Israel...” For before this verse, is written (Shemos 17:7), “HaYesh HaShem bekirbenu.im ayin?” “Is HaShem present in our midst or is He not?” A parable found there in Rashi involves a son riding on his father’s shoulders... The father has (a dog) come... Thus, the father frightens his son in order to teach him that he has a father who can protect him, and once the child learns this, the father returns to his loving relationship with the son. And for this reason, this month is called “Av,” Father, for He destroyed our Holy Temple in this month so that we should know that we have a Father, and once we have fully internalized this knowledge, the Holy One, Blessed is He, will rebuild the Holy Temple.
The use of this Name in the context of comfort would otherwise have been
difficult to understand.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel