Ah, Shabbos Nachamu! Finally the three weeks of mourning have finished, and the seven-week period of comforting, of nechama, has begun. We breathe a sigh of relief and life goes back to normal. But wait a minute – it doesn’t seem like anything has changed! We still do not have the Bais HaMikdash or the extreme closeness to Hashem which we so yearn for! So why do we switch over to a process of comforting? Furthermore, since this entire period is referred to as a time of comforting, why do we find an expression of that nechama specifically on Shabbos through the special haftaras, and not during the week?
Let us start with Chapter 92 of Tehillim: “A psalm, a song for the day of Shabbos.” Although we might have expected this chapter to discuss the beauty of Shabbos and its different aspects, in truth there seems to be no apparent connection. So why is this the special mizmor of Shabbos? Harav Eliyahu Lopian zt”l explains the connection with a beautiful parable.
Making Sense Out Of Chaos
A couple once discovered a beautiful estate with stunning gardens, containing the most exquisite flowers and trees. Immaculate brick paths led them past creeks and towering fountains of waters. “If this is what the grounds look like, the house itself must be an amazing edifice,” said the husband. Suddenly, in front of their eyes stood a massive mansion in the most decrepit state! There were gaping holes in the roof, and the walls seemed to be falling down! “The owners must have abandoned their home,” commented the wife. “But if so, why are they keeping the rest of the estate in such good shape?” asked the husband. After looking again carefully they realized that the owners were just remodeling in order to make it even more beautiful!
When we look around us, it seems that evil people can do what they want, and many times they are even given control over us. Tragedies befall the best of people, and their suffering pains our hearts. We may mistakenly think that Hashem has chas v’sholom left the world to run on its own. But on the other hand, with just a little contemplation we can see that Hashem’s greatness, wisdom and kindness fill every inch of the universe.
Let’s take our feet, for example. Imagine trying to design and manufacture a device that would transport you on all sorts of terrains – flat and hilly, rocky, sandy or icy. It must also help you climb over walls and up trees and walk on narrow ropes. Don’t forget that it must also allow you to leap, jump and swim. And when you sit, it needs to be tucked out of the way. These are just a few of the many amazing features of our legs that Hashem has provided us free of charge!
Everywhere we look, we see Hashem’s great kindness and involvement in our lives, ensuring smooth operation. Most of us always have food in the house, and we never go to sleep on an empty stomach. Our digestive and respiratory systems run smoothly, and we are generally healthy. “Gadlo,” the signs of His greatness, “vetuvo,” His kindness, “malei olom,” fill the world! (Shachris of Shabbos)
Once it becomes clear to us that the all merciful Great Conductor is orchestrating everything that happens in this world, we will realize that even seemingly bad things are for our best interest. And if we don’t understand now, we will understand in the World to Come.
We can gain this awareness all week long, but on Shabbos it becomes crystal clear. On a simple level, this is because on Shabbos we stop all our activities and have time to truly see and feel that Hashem is the epitome of good. But it is deeper than that. On this day the universe was completed, and the purpose of creation becomes clear. This world is not our final destination – it is the place to earn the eternal reward of the World to Come by fulfilling the Torah. Thus we realize that everything that is happening is because Hashem in his infinite kindness wants to help us partake in the greatest happiness possible – Olam Habba!Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus, raised and educated in Los Angeles and subsequently Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim, is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer , Israel. He lectures for the public and is the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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