Shabbat Nachamu – “Getting Up”

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There is an almost absolute absurdity with this coming Shabbat—Shabbat Nachamu.

Last Saturday night we were sitting on the floor thinking about the sadness of Tisha Baav and mourning the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem and the tragedies that have unfolded during the past 2,000 years.

iStock_000016359540_SmallYet, this Shabbat there will be a completely different mood.

It is Nachamu and we are upbeat.

It is Nachamu and we are hopeful.

It is Nachamu and we are now in the middle of wedding season.

What has caused this change of attitude? Nothing has really changed from last Sunday. Moshiach did not come and the Temple is still in ruins. The world is still very chaotic and dangerous. If nothing has really changed then my question quite simply is mah nishtanah haShabbat hazot meShabbat sheavrah-What is the difference between this Shabbat and last Shabbat?

If that which we did and experienced last Saturday night and Sunday was real and not fake; and if the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem was truly a national catastrophe and nothing has concretely changed, then why are we so happy and so upbeat?

I believe that the 180 degree turn from Tisha Baav to Shabbat Nachamu can be traced to something which occurs on Tisha B’av.

On Tisha Baav all Jewish traditions, from Persia to Paris with all points in between, observe the concept that in the afternoon we get up from “off the floor” and we arise from the mourner’s position.

Despite the fact that the day is still sad, and we are not allowed to learn Torah (which gladdens the heart), and still not allowed to eat, drink or wear leather shoes—we “get up.”

I believe that “getting up” on Tisha B’av is teaching us that there are two motifs to Tisha B’av. The first motif is sorrow and sadness; as we cry, mourn and lament about the loss of the Temple, and the tragedies of the Jewish people. We sit on the floor; we remember and connect to the sadness and the dark times of Jewish history.

In the middle of the day, when we “get-up”, the motif of the day changes. After a night of Eichah and Lamentations, after a morning of depressing Kinot, a quiet but determined resolve fills the Jew.

The “Tisha B’av Jew” has at midday of the Fast demonstrated that no matter how successful he or she might be, no matter how many comforts he or she might have in the Diaspora, the “Tisha B’av Jew” has not forgotten the temple, and has not forgotten that something is missing in our lives.

With that there is a determined resolve which grips the “Tisha B’av Jew”. The “Tisha B’av Jew” becomes filled with resolve that he or she will internalize the lessons of Tisha Baav, that he or she will fix what needs to be fixed, will correct what needs to be corrected. With the help of G-d the “Tisha B’av Jew” arises and gets up with confidence and determination that this will be the last Tisha B’av.

Thus by “Getting Up” at midday of Tisha B’av, the motif of the afternoon of Tisha B’av changes from looking backwards to looking forwards. The motif of the waning hours of Tisha B’av is a quiet optimism of hope, which finds its louder expression in the following Shabbat with Nachamu Nachamu Ami—the haftarah for Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Consolation.

A proof of the assertion that “Getting Up” at midday changes the motif of Tisha B’av afternoon and serves as the springboard for Shabbat Nachamu, is the fact that in Ashkenazi Psak and amongst some Sephardic communities, the prayer of NACHEM the prayer of Consolation, is said only at Mincha.

According to this tradition, NACHEM is not the May-en Hemorah-the central motif of the day-rather Nachem or consolation only becomes the motif of Tisha B’av after we arise, after midday.
My hope, wish and prayer is that the quiet resolve that we demonstrated on Tisha B’av when we “got up”, to fix what needs to be fixed, and to correct what needs to be corrected, will find expression in this Shabbat of Consolation.

That our confidence in G-d to fulfill his promises and to console and redeem the Jewish people and our confidence in ourselves to fix and correct ourselves, will create a wave of goodness, kindness and increase in religiosity so that there will never, ever be any more fasting on Tisha B’av and that we should rejoice this year, in the newly constructed Temple. Amen.