Personal and Complete Consolation

The elderly woman who called Hamodia’s Brooklyn office had a singular question.

Moved by the plight of Yehonasan ben Malka Pollard, she was reciting a perek Tehillim each day on his behalf. She also wished to recite a kapitel Tehillim for Sholom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivka Rubashkin. Was there any specific perek that would be particularly suitable?

The editor to whom the call was transferred replied that he wasn’t aware of any specific perek that was being recommended, but after the caller pressed for an answer, he offered a suggestion.

“Rabbi,” the lady replied, “I have to ask you for another idea. You see, the city only provides me with an aide for four hours a day, but I really need much more than this, so I already recite that chapter of Tehillim daily to ask Hashem that the city give me four more hours.”

Moved by the response, the editor made another suggestion, which the caller gratefully accepted. As the conversation drew to an end, the caller made an offhand, extraordinarily inspiring comment.

She revealed that her personal circumstances were extremely challenging, and what kept her going was a single thought.

“I feel that Moshiach will be here any day, and I think it will be good to be here on this world when he arrives,” she said. “So that is why I want to keep on living.”

After three weeks of mourning, we now enter a seven-week period of consolation. This consolation does not in any way minimize our yearning. Rather, it signals our emunah that one day — may it be today! — we will merit seeing the Redemption.

We were banished from our Homeland because of our sins. We have spent nearly 2,000 years in a bitter, painful exile. Yet the very fact that we still yearn, the very fact that after all these long years in exile, there still exists such a strong emunah in Moshiach and yearning for the Geulah, is in itself a great consolation.

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Chazal tell us that when Yeshayah said the words nachamu, nachamu ami to Bnei Yisrael, they asked him, “Rabbeinu Yeshayah, are you saying that you only came to comfort the generation in whose lifetime the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed?”

“I came to comfort all the generations!” Yeshayah answered. “It is not ‘said your G-d,’ but ‘says your G-d.’”

The Ribbono shel Olam is comforting us. He is consoling us personally, assuring us that our suffering will come to an end and we will merit the true consolation: the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash and techiyas hameisim.

On Shabbos Nachamu 5701/1941, amidst the horror that was Nazi-occupied Warsaw, Harav Klonymus Kalman Shapira, the Piaseczna Rebbe, Hy”d,sat and delivered divrei Torah. He would later write down these divrei Torah in a manuscript that miraculously survived the war and was published under the apt name “Esh Kodesh — Holy Fire.”

The Piaseczna Rebbe pointed out that when the Navi speaks about consolation — “Nachamu, nachamu ami” — he continues, “Yomar Elokeichem.” Elokim is the Name of Hashem symbolizing middas hadin, strict judgment.

In the very next passuk, which describes the suffering of Knesses Yisrael, it says, “Ki lakchah miYad Hashem kiflayim b’chol chatoseha — for she has received double for all her sins from the hand of Hashem.” Here the name Hashem is used, the name that symbolizes middas
harachamim
,the attribute of kindness.

He explains that there are types of suffering for which one can accept consolation and comfort. For example, someone who recovers from a serious illness, even though he was in great danger and suffered terrible pain, can accept consolation when Hashem helps him and he recovers. The same applies to monetary loss.

However, for the loss of lives we cannot be comforted. Only the Ribbono shel Olam can comfort us, for only when the dead are brought back to life at techiyas hameisim will we truly be consoled.

After Iyov suffered the loss of his children, the passuk says: “VaHashem shav es shevus Iyov — Hashem returned Iyov’s captivity” and comforted him with other children. Hashem, the Name denoting rachamim,is used here, since for the strict judgment itself there could be no consolation; the children he had lost did not return, and the rachamim extended to other children.

However, when the Ribbono shel Olam seeks to console Klal Yisrael, He gives us a complete consolation. The middas hadin from which we suffered will be the vehicle of our consolation, for these precious souls that we lost will return with techiyas hameisim.

Furthermore, the suffering we endured was in actuality rachamim. It looked and felt like middas hadin, but really it was kindness cloaked in strict judgment.

May we merit this complete consolation speedily in our day.