(Torah Portion Va’eschanan) Comfort Zone!
This Shabbos is called Shabbos Nachamu – Shabbos of consolation. The name comes from the opening words of the Haftorah, where Isaiah the prophet in the name of G-d, tells the Jewish people after the destruction of the Temple, “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami” I will give a double consolation to My people.
As we enter a ceasefire with our enemy Hamas after weeks of fighting, we have an opportunity to pause – and as our GPS tells us every so often – recalculate.
Yes, we seriously handicapped our enemy and their infrastructure of terror, but the families of the 70 students, soldiers and civilians who had the lives of their loved ones cut short by our enemy, need consolation, and we as their extended family need consolation as well. G-d is the ultimate provider of consolation, and experiencing and embracing the holy day of Shabbos gives us a special connection to G-d and provides us with meaning, joy and comfort. We know that Shabbos interrupts the Shiva mourning period. This is because the holy Shabbos itself is a comfort zone.
We have so much gratitude to the Almighty for sparing so many lives. Yes, we have an excellent military, intelligence and the iron dome, but we as Jews believe the power and success behind it all, is G-d. It was our prayers, good deeds and embracing each other despite our differences that fueled our success.
A few examples: One Friday, the iron dome in Ashdod was down for three hours. The personnel in charge of the installation and repairs, came to synagogue Shabbos evening and related that while they were repairing the iron dome they realized the catastrophe that could occur if a missile was shot in their direction. They began praying and reciting Tehilim – Psalms –the whole time they were working on it. “The moment we completed the repair, a missile was shot in our direction and was intercepted!”
An unaffiliated operator relates that a missile was shot towards Tel Aviv and the iron dome was deployed three times and missed its mark, something highly unusual. An alert was sent out to all emergency departments to gear up for a disastrous situation. “Then out of nowhere our sensors detected an unusual wind which shifted the missile and it dropped into the Mediterranean!” The operator relates, “I immediately called out, “There is a G-d, there is a G-d!” I was so inspired that I ran to a rabbi and asked to don a pair of Teflin. Then I observed the Shabbos for the first time; it was the nicest experience of my life!”
Even the terrorists were quoted in the media, “We shoot rockets and missiles toward them (Israel), and their G-d intercepts them!”
So we have a lot to be thankful for and we offer gratitude to the Almighty for His protection.
This past week, I paid a Shiva call to my friend Michael Weinberg who had lost his father Milton. Michael related the following story. “While enlisted in the US army, my father participated in the battle of the Bulge. At one point he drifted away from his platoon. He was extremely tired and he saw a barn. He went inside and to warm up he built a fire. He fell asleep and was suddenly awoken by a sting. He noticed that he was covered with some sort of bugs that were biting him. Initially he felt annoyed, but then he looked up and saw the entire barn engulfed in flames! Thank G-d he was able to get out in time. “My father said that the bugs saved his life, for if not for them, in all probability he would have suffocated and died in his sleep.”
I can just imagine that throughout Milton Weinberg’s life, he felt a certain sense of gratitude to what others would call, annoying bugs.
In this week’s Parsha, Moshe recounts and reminisces about the awesome event that occurred forty years earlier when G-d proclaimed the Ten Commandments before the entire Jewish nation. The fifth command is to honor one’s father and mother. The foundation of this law is that a son and a daughter must express their gratitude to the ones who brought them into this world, through words, actions and deeds. Without parents, we would have no life. Each and every act of respect to parents is an expression of gratitude.
By focusing on appreciating that one’s life is dependent on his parents one experiences gratitude and affords one the prospect of ‘recalculating’ how best to serve and appreciate his parents. (Incidentally, one is obligated to give honor to parents even after they pass on.)
It is a difficult Mitzvah to perform in its entirety, and that is why the Torah specifically states that the reward for its observance is, “So that you will live a long and fulfilled life.”
Focusing on gratitude to parents has an additional benefit. It brings us to pay attention and express our gratitude to the Third partner in our creation, and that is the Almighty, Who grants us the spirit of life and continually provides for us!
Wishing you a blessed, uplifting and peaceful Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family