This week’s Haftorah is the first of seven Haftoros that are referred to as Shiva deNechemta – the Seven Haftoros of comfort. These Haftoros follow those which we read the past three weeks. Those Haftoros were referred to as the T’lasa deParanusa – the Three of Calamity. The Three Haftoros of calamity were supposed to express the feeling of the time period in which they were read. The three weeks, or the Bein-Hameitzarim was a time period of calamity. Ever since the Chet Hameraglim the Ninth of Av was singled out as a day of continuous misfortunes. The Medrash explains that this was as a punishment for Am-Yisroel crying about going into Eretz-Yisroel. Crying about going into Eretz-Yisroel was a hollow crying, a crying for absolutely no reason. Hashem saw it fit to punish Klal-Yisroel for their sheer lack of appreciation (which was the underlying cause of such frivolous crying) by allowing the date of the Ninth of Av to be a date of calamity.
Over 1,900 years later we are still living through the disasters of the Ninth of Av. Noticeably the worst event in history that occurred on the Ninth of Av was the Churban of both Batei Mikdashos. The Churban of the second Bayis was the beginning of the exile in which we are still living. Thus, while we commemorate Tisha beAv and the entire three weeks leading up to it as an atrocious time, it is merely a period of time given to reflect upon our continuing exile. As such, it makes sense that during these three weeks we read Haftoros that emphasize the exile. This leads us to an obvious question: why are we reading Seven Comforting Haftoros afterwards? Do we live in a world that has any of the Nechama? Is there Geula or some partial Geula even?
We don’t. We are without doubt very much in exile! So why seven Haftoros of comfort?
Our Haftorah this week (a Nevuah from Yishayohu) starts off with Hashem telling us ‘Nachamu, Nachamu’ – twice (‘be comforted, be comforted’). The Navi goes on to explain that Klal-Yisroel has been punished twice for all its sins. The latter statement begs the question: is it possible that Hashem would punish us more than we deserve?
When a parent is forced to punish a child, the child will then often disdain the punishment. He will generally challenge being punished. Very often the child will refuse to apologize or to recognize any wrong doing. As a result, the child will remain in his punishment for longer. Eventually the child will either apologize or the parent will give up.
The Passuk tells us ‘Refaeini Ve’eirafei Hoshieini Ve’ivashaya’ –‘ heal me and I’ll be healed; save me and I’ll be saved’. The Vilna Gaon asks: is the Passuk not being redundant? Is it not self-evident that if Hashem heals or saves someone then that person will be healed or saved?
The Vilna Gaon answers that often Hashem is willing to give us salvation or to heal us. We are, however, stubborn and refuse to accept Hashem’s Salvation because of
where or how it comes. Therefore the Navi is in fact saying that we are telling Hashem: heal us and save us because we are willing to be saved or healed by you Hashem.
Perhaps we can draw a parallel to our issue. Maybe Hashem is willing to redeem us from Shibud Galiyos and to bring us back to our Homeland, and maybe we are being stubborn and unwilling to accept it. Maybe we are stubborn in our stance and insist on staying punished. As such Hashem has to beg us to be comforted. Hashem is telling us that we are punishing ourselves; that we have already been punished times two.
There is now greater assimilation of Jews than ever. There are more religious Jews who prefer living in the Diaspora than religious Jews wishing to live in Eretz-Yisroel.
Every year we mourn the Beis Hamikdash and our Galus anew. Yet we stay blinded by the fact that this year may be the year that our Galus is over; this year could be the last fast of Tisha beAv. Every year following Tisha beAv Chazal felt it worthwhile for us to be reminded that when we are ready to apologize Hashem is waiting for us back home in Eretz-Yisroel.