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    Ascent through descent

    Because of the opening words of today’s haftarah, this Sabbath is called Shabbat Nachamu, which echoes the prophet’s call: “Comfort, comfort My people”.

    There is a well-known Chassidic concept of “Yeridah Tachlit Aliyah”, which translates into a rhyme, “From every descent there comes an ascent”.

    We have just marked Tishah B’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple… a low point in Jewish history which carries within it the seeds of elevation, going from descent to ascent, from destruction to destiny.

    That’s a reason for ending the Tishah B’Av morning service with a cheerful melody, for sobbing with sorrow at the destruction and laughing with joy at the beginnings of redemption.

    That’s why we reject the lachrymose concept of Jewish history which sees only the tragedies and tribulations and underplays the triumphs.

    Our era will see a golden age of Jewish experience when the world will finally drop its negativity towards Israel and rejoice at the Israeli and Jewish contribution to civilisation.

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