Haftarah: A Double Consolation
הרב זכריה טובי
This Shabbat we read in the Haftarah: "Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d." (Yeshaya 40:1) Chazal comment in the Midrash (Eicha Rabbah 1:57):
They doubly sinned, as it says, "Yerushalayim sinned a sin;" they were doubly punished, as it says, "for she has received from the hands of Hashem double for all her sins;" and they will be doubly comforted, as it says, "Comfort, comfort My people."
What is the meaning of "doubly comforted" - is one comfort from Hashem not enough to console? What does a second comfort add?
Rav Zevin writes that they were "doubly punished," because it says, "she has received from the hands of Hashem." Hashem represents the attribute of mercy and it turned into the attribute of justice. This is a double punishment. Not only did Hashem not have mercy on us, but even the attribute of mercy turned into the attribute of justice. However, they are destined to be doubly comforted, as it says, "Comfort, comfort My people says your Elokim." Elokim represents the attributes of justice. When the attribute of justice will turn to the attribute of mercy - this is the double comfort.
We find also double comfort in the famous Gemara in the end of Masechet Makkot (24b). There R. Akiva and his colleagues were walking near the Temple ruins and saw a fox go out of the Holy of Holies. They began crying, whereas R. Akiva laughed. His colleagues asked him: Why are you laughing? R. Akiva responded: Why are you crying? They said to him: The place about which it says, "A non-kohen who comes close will die," and now foxes walk there - and we should not cry? The said to them: That is why I laugh! Until Uriah's prophecy was not fulfilled, "Therefore, on your account Zion will be plowed as a field," I was afraid that the prophecy of Zechariah would also not be fulfilled, "Old men and old women will one again sit the streets of Yerushalayim." They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us. Akiva, you have comforted us. Here also, R. Akiva's colleagues double the comfort - what does this mean?
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz explains in Sichot Mussar: The Gemara in Pesachim 68a says: "R. Shmuel b. Nachamani said in the name of R. Yonatan: The righteous are destined to revive the dead like Elisha [did], as it says, 'Old men and old women will one again sit the streets of Yerushalayim, each with his staff in his hand because of advanced age,' and it says, 'Place my staff upon the lad's face' [to revive him]. Not only will the terrible destruction be corrected, but rather the redemption will be with a much improved structure. Thus, the process of destruction is now the beginning of the building. Therefore, R. Akiva says that the prophecy of Zechariah is being fulfilled - in the present, because this destruction is the beginning of the building.
Therefore they said, "Akiva, you have comforted us, Akiva you have comforted us," which is the double comforting. Not only will it be good in the future, but also now, the past state of destruction will be good. This is the explanation that the attribute of justice turned into mercy. G-d hits to heal and not to destroy.
It says in the Midrash: R. Shmuel b. Nachman taught: Everywhere that it says, "Vayehi" is a language of distress, "vehaya" joy. They said to him, but is says, "Vehaya when Yerushalayim was captured?" (Yirmiya 38:28) He said, "This is also not distress, but happiness, because on that day Menachem was born." A further allusion was brought from the verse, "Before she even feels her labor pains she will give birth; before any travail comes to her she will deliver a son." (Yeshaya 66:7)
The meaning of this Midrash is: yehi is future, and vayehi is past. When the future is like the past - this is distress. However, haya is past, and vehaya is future. When we see that the past was for the goal of the future - this is happiness. (Sefat Emet) This is the greatest comfort - when we see in the end of the process how the past was for good, and it was the key for a better future.
The word nes (miracle) is comprised of two letters: nun - which symbolizes nefila (falling), and samech - which symbolizes semicha (support). When a person is in the middle of the process, he thinks that he is falling. The shape a nun is a half-circle. When the cycle is completed, this is the shape of samech - the person sees that this was not falling, but rather, "G-d supports all of the fallen ones" (Tehillim 145:13), and then he knows that this was a great miracle.
This is what we say, "When Hashem will return the captivity of Zion, we were like dreamers." (Tehillim 126:1) Why is the past tense, "we were" (hayinu) used, and not the future tense, "we will be"? This is because we will discover that the reality that we live in today was a dream, and we did not understand the reality properly. This is the double comfort - may we merit seeing it and the complete redemption speedily in our days.
קוד השיעור: 3849
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)