Following the three haftarot of rebuke are seven haftarot of consolation. The number of haftarot not only is doubled but another is added on to those, bringing us into the High Holiday season. This haftara, Nachamu, always follows Tisha B’Av, and it leads off this cycle. In our mourning, we anticipate the future joy. We console mourners that they should be consoled along with the mourners of Zion.
Last week, in the vision of Yeshayahu, we saw how a reward awaited the people of Israel who are faithful to Hashem. In this week’s haftara of consolation, everything is doubled. Be consoled twice, says the navi, for she – Israel – has taken double from the hand of Hashem.
We learn something from the commentary of the Ra’n, Rabbeinu Nissim, about the tremendous mercy of Hashem. Many medieval commentators discuss in what way the exile is doubled, and how we are to understand this concept in practice. But the Ra’n says the punishment doesn’t have to literally be doubled. For example, if a father has to punish his son, he always holds back a measure of what the boy deserves because he loves him. After the punishment he still worries that maybe it was too harsh. It’s as though Hashem feels like He’s punished us twice, even if He really hasn’t. And when the redemption comes, we learn from the Ramchal in Maamar Hageula that Israel will merit a double reward no matter what happens.
When the voice comes to herald the redemption, nothing will be able to silence it or hold it back. The voice of Hashem raises valleys and lowers mountains and hills. The voice will call and all that will remain is to ask what to say. What the prophet says is “All flesh is like grass.” (Yeshayahu 40:6). The Midrash on Tehillim (146:2) says we learn from this how easy it is for the wicked to be destroyed when they stand before Hashem and His will. The wicked one arises and he postures and he challenges. In the end every one of them is always blown away like the dry grass on the wind. Once they are gone nobody even remembers them, or wants to.
Israel remains faithful to their G-d in exile and He remembers everything they have done. Don’t imagine that it is difficult for Him to keep track of everyone. Remember that He takes care of every star in the sky. He knows all their names.