Roy Neuberger - Aug. 15, 2019

We have made it through Tisha B’Av and we are still alive.


It’s not just that we survived the fast.


No! We have survived history!


“Nachamu, nachamu … comfort, comfort, My people, says your G-d.” (Yeshiah 40:1)


As I write, the headlines tell of mass shootings in the United States. Blame is shooting back and forth like bullets. There is collective blame, because these shootings are not mere accidents. There is deep sickness in the world. This sickness will not be cured by politics, gun control or a change of personnel.


Where is the comfort, my friends? “Nachamu, nachamu ….” But where is it? 


This is the week of “T’u b’Av,” one of the most remarkable days of the year. On the Fifteenth Day of Menachem Av we understand that tragedy and punishment do not last forever. This is the day on which it became clear that the Generation of the Midbar had stopped dying. On this day we began to see Hashem’s incredible chessed and the confirmation of His promise.


“My L-rd, Hashem/Elokim, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, for what power is there in the heaven or on the earth that can perform according to Your deeds and according to Your mighty acts.” (Devarim 3:24)


Yes, we will enter the Holy Land!


Yes, we will greet Moshiach ben Dovid!


Yes, we will see the Bais Hamikdosh[1]!


Yes, we will see Techias Hamaisim[2]!


We have to know that, hard and painful as our suffering is, there is a reason for everything. There is no person who escapes difficult experiences. I had occasion to speak to a five-year-old who was suffering from painful mouth sores. She had been crying, so I told her, “I want you to know that everyone in life has pain. Whether someone’s mouth hurts, or hand, or leg, everyone has pain. But you will get over it.” I don’t know if it helped, but it is true. And sometimes the pain is in the heart.


A great surgeon told me, “Pain is good. Cancer is painless (at least at the beginning). But if you feel pain, then you know you need a cure and you can do something. Be thankful for pain.”


Hashem sends pain to heal us.


I heard something beautiful this morning. I thought perhaps I had hit someone with my tzitzis at shul. This can be extremely painful, especially if the tzitzis snaps against a person’s eye. He reassured me, and told me a story. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter zt”l was following Rabbi Zundel Salant zt”l to learn from him. Reb Zundel turned to Reb Yisroel and said, “You want to learn mussar[3]? Don’t hit the other person in the eye when you are putting on tzitzis!”


My friends, if we would learn to be good to each other, the world would be healed.


“Nachamu, nachamu … Comfort, comfort, My People.”


The day of comfort will come soon, b’ezras Hashem.



[1] The Holy Temple

[2] Resurrection of the dead

[3] Proper behavior


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