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    Sabbath of Comfort

    Depiction of Isaiah from a 1904 bible card

    Depiction of Isaiah from a 1904 bible card

    The Shabbat after Tishah B’Av is Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Comfort.

    The name derives from the beginning of the haftarah, where God commands the prophet Isaiah, Nachamu nachamu ammi, “Comfort, comfort My people” (Isa. 40:1).

    It contrasts with Chazon, the first chapter of Isaiah, last week’s haftarah of rebuke (“Children have I reared and brought up, but they have transgressed against Me!”).

    This week’s message is softer and gentler, more loving and more encouraging.

    What would a modern Isaiah say to the Jewish people – Chazon or Nachamu? Would he notice our failings – or our virtues?

    We are far from paragons of virtue: nor are we irredeemable sinners.

    Which trait is more significant in historic terms? We can only give a personal answer.

    Perhaps I am too naive but I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt. I see the lacks and drawbacks in modern Jewish life but I ask whether any people which has been through what we have would be any better. No, would they even be as good as we are?

    Nothing has destroyed our nerve, our faith, our determination to win through. Nothing has stopped us being decent, caring, loving human beings.

    Individual Jews may have problems with belief, but nothing has prevented the Jewish people as a whole from continuing in the covenant with God.

    Isaiah would be impressed. I suspect he would choose Nachamu over Chazon.

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