August 12, 2000 – 11 Av 5760
Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of comfort,
based on the words that open this week’s haftorah,
“nachamu nachamu ami” (“Be comforted, my people”).
This will be the first of seven consecutive haftorahs that
contain prophecies of consolation, leading into Rosh HaShanah.
haftorahs come on the heels of three consecutive prophecies of
disaster and exile. Restoration of ruptured relationships is
gradual. God at first only urges others (his prophets) to
comfort Israel; the Jews thus still feel rejected, though
blessed. Israel, as after the Golden Calf atonement, yearns
for the return of Divine Intimacy.
achieve this, Jews must deeply experience God as the exclusive
source and perpetuator of all existence. Britain’s chief
rabbi, Joseph Hertz, who dies in 1946, noted that Jews, as
Moshe, admired mountains, reaching toward heaven; Romans
despised these annoying obstacles to their conquest of this
world, e.g. Jerusalem.
too speaks here of pulling down mountains to pave the road to
Jerusalem. Perhaps he refers to the spiritual “mountains”
of Esau and Yishmael, their false claims to transcendence, to
true heights of Divine Revelation; they keep man away from the
true word of God, which only comes from Sinai, via Jerusalem.
Outreach Program, based in Jerusalem, provides a study of
every Torah reading and Jewish Holiday, giving exact citations
and interfacing modern culture and knowledge with the Torah
and Jewish tradition. By its own description, Torah Outreach
Program is apolitical, open, modern Zionist, and “truly
traditional,” believing that the written and oral law are
their website at Torah