‘Nachamu Ami’ – Comfort my People
Isaiah 40:1-2: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her””
‘Parsha Va’etchanan’ is read on ‘Shabbat Nachamu’, The ‘Shabbat’ immediately after ‘Tisha B’Av’. ‘Shabbat Nachamu’ means “Sabbath of comforting or consolation”, and it takes its name from ‘Haftorah Va’etchanan’ found in Isaiah 40:1-26 that speaks of “comforting” the Jewish people for their suffering: “Nachamu, nachamu ami” - “Comfort, comfort My people”.
‘Shabbat Nachamu’ is the first of seven ‘haftorot’ starting with the Shabbat after ‘Tisha B’Av’ and leading up to ‘Rosh Hashanah’, the Jewish New Year. These readings are meant to console us after the destruction of the Temple and reassure us that it will be built again
However, ‘Nachamu; means more than “comfort” or “console”, and its different meanings shed light on what comfort really means as well as G-d’s Divine love for His creation.
In Isaiah 55:8-9, G-d declares: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.””
This shows that the way G-d thinks is much higher than how mankind thinks.
The Hebrew wording used in this passage of scripture shows that Almighty G-d always thinks from a heart of love.
Genesis 6:6 declares: “Vayinacheim Adonai ki asa et ha’adam ba’aretz va’yitatzeiv el libo”
(“And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”)
So, was G-d sorry that he had created humans after they started to corrupt the world? No, because ‘Yinacheim’ here actually means “regret”. G-d did not make a mistake by creating mankind and then regret it, rather He regretted at what man had become.
Because of His Divine love for mankind, the way G-d thinks is that ‘nachamu’ (comfort) begins when we can reframe the immediate pain of a loss or disappointment in a larger, more encompassing picture or story.
In the case of Almighty G-d, G-d’s grieving heart for His chosen stiff-necked people is so great that ‘yinacheim’ (regret) becomes ‘nachamu’ (comfort and console). And it’s from this mind-set that G-d declares: “Nachamu, nachamu ami” - “Comfort, comfort My people”.
Not despise them, be angry with them and deride and ridicule them even with their shortcomings, but “nachamu otam” (comfort them).
However ‘nachamu’ has one more meaning. ‘Nachamu’ means: Comfort, console and support.
When G-d says: “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her”” in Isaiah 40:1-2, His command is actually: “Comfort, comfort, console and support My people and Jerusalem”.
So when the church supports the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza over the Jewish citizens of Israel, they are, in fact, breaking G-d’s command in Isaiah 40:1.
And when the church and the nations look to dividing Jerusalem and giving part of East Jerusalem to the Arabs as a capital of a Palestinian state, they are, in fact, breaking G-d’s command in Isaiah 40:2.
The way the Jewish calendar is set up, ‘Parsha Va’etchanan’ is always on Shabbat ‘Nachamu’ when we read the first ‘haftorah’ of consoling: “Nachamu nachamu ami”.
It is also the Shabbat right before, after or on 15 ‘Av’ known as ‘Tu B’Av’ which takes place five days after the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, ‘Tisha B’Av’.
The holiday of 15 Av represents the opposite of ‘Tisha B’Av’ because on ‘Tisha B’Av’, we went into exile because of our sins. ‘Tu B’Av’ on the other hand, is a time of forgiveness of sin.
In Orthodox Judaism we believe that the 15 ‘Av’ represents what was accomplished through our descent into exile – the coming of the Messiah and everlasting life. We believe the greater the descent, the greater is the ascent that follows, and this dark and bitter exile will accomplish the coming (actually, the return) of the ‘Mashiach’, Yeshua, and everlasting life through Yeshua – Romans 11:26-27: “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.’’”.
This exile that most Jews are still in will also accomplish the building of the Third Temple.
‘Va’etchanan’ means “And I prayed”, and Moses prayed that he should lead the Jewish people into the Land of Israel. The reason that he wanted to lead them into the land was because everything that Moses did was everlasting.
He knew by G-d’s word that the day would come when the Temple would be built; Almighty G-d would bring His people back from exile and no more exile would follow; and that the Messiah would come and bring salvation to G-d’s chosen people.
In this way, we see how ‘Vaetchanan’, ‘Nachamu’ and 15 ‘Av’ are connected as they are about the coming of ‘Mashiach’ and everlasting life.
Now is the time for Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, to return and lead Jewish people to the greatest and everlasting ascent – the forgiveness of sin, salvation, and everlasting life in heaven.
We must just be sure that we are ready for His return.