By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin
The Shabbos following the Fast of Tisha B’Av is known as “Shabbos Nachamu” – Shabbos of Consolation. The name is taken from the opening words of the Haftorah, Nachamu, Nachamu Ami – Be comforted, be comforted My people.” (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 40:1, Haftorah for Parshas Nachamu)
The Nine Days and Tisha B’Av are behind us. Was it only a week ago that we were mourning?
How quickly we transition from sadness and mourning to joy and celebration. From Shabbos Chazon to Shabbos Nachamu.
HaShem, with His infinite kindness, grants us the gift of nechamah – consolation. How speedily HaShem wants to bring healing to His beloved people. Like a mother who just wants to kiss her child’s boo-boos away, or a father, that can’t bear to see his child suffer, HaShem, our Father in Heaven can’t bear to watch His beloved children in pain.
After the darkness, there is sunshine. After the hurt and anguish, there is comfort and consolation.
We concluded the reading of Eichah/Lamentations on Tisha B’Av with a request to HaShem. “Hashiveinu HaShem eilechah, v’nashuvah, Bring us back to You, HaShem, and we will return.” (Eichah/Lamentations 5:21) Our hearts yearn to come close to HaShem.
Boh Shabbos, Boh menucha. When Shabbos arrives, peace arrives. On Shabbos, our neshamah yearns to return to HaShem. Shabbos is our opportunity to come home. In fact, the first two letter of the word Shabbos, shin, bais – spell out the word shov, meaning to return.
The longing for and desire to “come home” is found in this week’s parshah, Va’Eschanan, where Moshe pleads with HaShem, “Let me now cross and see the good land that is on the other side of the Jordan, the good mountains and the Lebanon.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 3:25)
Imagine, Moshe, who brought the Jewish nation out of Egypt, and led them thru the splitting of the sea. Moshe, who experienced many miracles during his lifetime. Who was privileged to communicate face-to-face with HaShem. Yet, Moshe was not content to remain outside of the Jewish homeland. He deeply yearned to reach his true home, Eretz Yisroel.
I am reminded of a sweet story that I recently heard. A zeide was visiting him grandson in sleep-away camp. He, asked the young boy how everything was going. “Great, lots of fun”. He then asked about the food. “Delicious.”
“What about the bunkhouse and sleeping accommodations?” Once again, the grandson responded excitedly, “Everything is great. “Zaidy, I love it. I love the trips, the activities, it’s all amazing.”
Then came the zeide’s final question. “Yingele, meins, my dear boy, do you want to go home?” The grandson hesitated, shook his head as if to say yes, and his eyes became very watery. At the end of the day, notwithstanding all the incredible and amazing aspects of camp, and despite the greatest time that he was having, there was a tinge of homesickness. Indeed, the young boy was looking forward to returning home.
What a powerful lesson for all of us. We too cry out to HaShem. We have suffered too long in exile. Despite all of our comforts, material possessions, good jobs and professions, and wonderful vacations, we ask HaShem, look deep inside us, into our hearts and eyes, and see that we too, truly want to come home. Hashiveinu, take us home. Take us back to Yerushalayim, rebuild our Bais HaMikdash, the home of your Holy Shechinah.
Shabbos Nachamu is like a burst of sunshine in our lives. The dawn of a new beginning. From mourning to morning.
There are those amongst us who, through their acts of kindness, bring that burst of sunshine into our world.
For the past thirty years, our family has been spending our summers upstate with a wonderful group of people. Summer Shabbosim can be long, and Shabbos parties for the children are a way to help create a special Shabbos spirit.
Baruch and Suzie Singer, two very special members of our upstate community, understand this. When their son, Yitzchok Aaron (Yitzi), was just a toddler, they made a Shabbos party on their porch for him and his friends. They did this not only to give their son a good time, but they saw this experience as a teaching moment to imbue their son with a love of giving and sharing, of doing chesed.
Kids are blessed with the art of sniffing out nosh and other goodies. Their noses just lead them to the treats. It didn’t take long for a large group of children to find their way to the Singer porch. The Singers warmly welcomed them, and their Shabbos party quickly grew and grew from Shabbos to Shabbos. Soon, the party outgrew their porch.
The Singers took the Shabbos party to the next level, and moved it to our development’s shul. All of the children from our seventy-plus families were invited to join. Every Friday, the Singers shopped for the assorted goodies that would be distributed that Shabbos, and they themselves packed the nosh bags for the children.
When I asked Baruch what inspires him to continue this by-now almost two-decade old tradition, he said, “I am motivated by the opportunity to strengthen the connection between the children and Shabbos. It is such a pleasure to see the eyes of these beautiful boys and girls light up as they enjoy Shabbos in a fun, yet Torah environment.”
It is the story of the Shabbos party that grew and grew — and is still growing. It started small, but now, over eighteen years later, little Yitzi is a young adult, and the Shabbos parties have become part of the official Shabbos schedule. Every Shabbos afternoon, at about 2:15, it is quite a sight to watch as a hundred (sometimes even more) children of all ages follow R’ Baruch Singer and his boxes filled with nosh bags. They quickly find their seats, enjoying not only the treats, but the inspiring d’var Torah and stories, singing and time spent together.
As an added gesture of their love for all the children, on the Sunday following every Shabbos Nachamu, Baruch and Suzie bring in an entertaining Torah show, and a fully stocked ice cream truck, distributing ice cream, slush and other frozen treats to all the children – and even to many of the mommies and daddys.
It is a story of chesed. A story of a couple who through their kindness, are amongst the bricklayers of the Bayis Shlishi, the third and final Bais HaMikdosh.
When we join together as one, we become a nation that cares and feels ahavah, love towards one another. A people that with HaShem’s help, will merit to see the fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Yeshayahu, “Nachamu, nachamu, ami, Be comforted, be comforted My people.”
May the blessings of Shabbos Nachamu bring comfort and consolation to us all.
Chaya Sora can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written L’zecher Nishmas / In Memory Of HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l and Rebbetzin Esther bas HaRav Avraham HaLevi, zt”l