Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
The refusal to be comforted sounded more than once in Jewish history. The prophet Jeremiah heard it in a later age: “This is what the Lord says: A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted….
“This is what the Lord says: Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded, says the Lord. They will return from the land of the enemy … Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:15-17).
Why was Jeremiah sure that Jews would return? Because they refused to be comforted – meaning, they refused to give up hope.
So it was during the Babylonian exile, in one of the great expressions of all time of the refusal to be comforted: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept as we remembered Zion … If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill]. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy” (Psalms 137:1-5).
It is said that Napoleon, passing a synagogue on Tisha B’Av, heard the sounds of lamentation. “What are the Jews crying for?” he asked one of his officers. “For Jerusalem,” he replied. “How long ago did they lose it?” “More than 1,700 hundred years ago.” “A people who can mourn for Jerusalem so long, will one day have it restored to them,” he is reputed to have replied.
Jews are the people who refuse to be comforted because they never give up hope. Jacob did eventually see Joseph again. Rachel’s children did return to the land. Jerusalem is once again the Jewish home. All the evidence may suggest otherwise: it may seem to signify irretrievable loss, a decree of history that cannot be overturned, a fate that must be accepted. Jews never believed the evidence because they had something else to set against it – a faith, a trust, an unbreakable hope that proved stronger than historical inevitability. It is not too much to say that Jewish survival was sustained in that hope.
Where did it come from? From a simple – or perhaps not so simply – phrase in the life of Jacob. He refused to be comforted. And so – while we live in a world still scarred by violence, poverty and injustice – must we.
About the Author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.”
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!
What did Yehudah say that was so effective that it convinced Yosef to make himself known?
What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?
This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.
It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.
The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.
Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.
Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.
When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt
When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.
Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.
Tamar’s conduct bears an uncanny resemblance to Ruth’s; virtuous outsiders at the margins of society
Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.
When Jacob was chosen, Esau was not rejected; G-d does not reject.
Between Judaism and Islam there can be friendship and mutual respect as Abraham loved both his sons.
God wanted to establish the principle that children are not the property of their parents.
The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-refusal-to-be-comforted/2012/12/05/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: