1. The Haftoros of the seven Shabbasos of Consolation were instituted to express that purpose. Thus, they contrast with the Haftoros read throughout the year which are directly related to the content of the Torah readings with which they are associated. Nevertheless, even on these Shabbasos, there is a connection to the weekly Torah reading. For as the Shaloh explains, the events of the calendar year share a connection to the Torah portions which are read at that time.
This week’s Haftorah begins Nachamu, Nachamu (“Take comfort, take comfort”) and reflects a twofold comforting for a twofold loss (the destruction of the First and Second Batei HaMikdash). This will come through the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash in the Era of the Redemption. Herein lies the connection to this week’s Torah reading which begins with Moshe’s prayer to enter Eretz Yisrael. Had Moshe been granted permission to lead the Jews intoEretz Yisrael and build the Beis HaMikdash, the Era of the Redemption would have begun at that time.
There is, however, a difficulty. Outwardly, the emphasis in Parshas Vaeschananis that Moshe’s prayer was not fulfilled and hence there was the possibility for exile and destruction.1 If so, the question arises: What is the connection between this Torah reading and the Haftorah’s promise of comfort for the Jewish people.
This question can be resolved on the basis of the concept that the consolation offered by Shabbos Nachamu is twofold, and the concept of repetition is connected with the redemption. Thus the Midrash comments “There are five letters that are repeated (i.e., they have two forms, one used when they appear at the beginning or in the middle of a word and one used at the end of a word), each of them is associated with the redemption.” Indeed, the concept of repetition is associated with the phrase kiflayim l’toshiah, “a twofold salvation,” which can be taken as an allusion to the ultimate salvation, the Future Redemption.
The connection between repetition and the redemption is that repetition does not imply simply a single repetition of a concept but a manifold and even unlimited repetition. Thus when commenting on the repetition of a command in the Torah, e.g., נתון תתן, “you shall surely give him,” our Sages frequently state that the repetition does not mean that the command must be fulfilled merely twice, but rather even “one hundred times.” Furthermore, one hundred is also not a limit, but rather an allusion to an unlimited amount.2 Herein lies the connection to the redemption, for in the Era of the Redemption, the infinite dimensions of G‑dliness will be revealed.3
In particular, the repetition of the promise Nachamu, Nachamu has a uniquely positive connotation. To explain: In regard to G‑d’s command to Avraham, Lech Lecha, Rashi explains that the repetition of the phrase indicates that the journey will be “for your benefit and for your good.” Furthermore, in regard to his personal future, it represented a redemption from Ur Kasdim. Similarly, we find a repetitive phrase pakod pakoditi (Shmos 3:16) being communicated to the Jews by Moshe as a sign that they would be redeemed from the Egyptian exile. And in the works of the prophets (Zechariah 6:12), the repetitive phraseTzemach… yitzmach is used to foretell the Future Redemption.
In these instances, however, the repeated phrase, though sharing the same root, is not exactly the same. In contrast, the phrase Nachamu, Nachamu is an exact repetition. This is a true expression of the connection between repetition and infinity. When there is a difference between the repeated words, the intent is obviously to convey another message in addition to the concept of repetition, and to express that concept, the words are slightly different. In contrast, when as in the instance at hand, the repetition is exact, it is clear that the only purpose is to express the infinite dimension associated with redemption.
The uniqueness of the message of comfort conveyed by the prophecyNachamu, Nachamu is emphasized by the Rabbis who interpret the repetition as referring to a comfort for the First Beis HaMikdash and a comfort for the Second Beis HaMikdash. Each one of these structures possessed an advantage lacking in the other. Thus the Third Beis HaMikdash will represent a complete comfort for their loss. Hence, it will be a threefold structure, possessing its own unique qualities and the positive qualities of each of the two previous Batei HaMikdash.
To explain: The First Beis HaMikdash was characterized by a unique dimension of revelation from Above, a higher degree of G‑dliness than was manifest in the Second Beis HaMikdash. This is reflected in the fact that five elements of holiness including the Ark were present in the First Beis HaMikdash and were not present in the Second.
On the other hand, the Second Beis HaMikdash possessed an advantage over the First. It was larger and endured for a longer time; i.e., in time and space, the qualities which characterize our material world, it surpassed the First Beis HaMikdash. The Third Beis HaMikdash will possess both these advantages, plus a unique dimension reflected in the fusion of these two.
Based on the above, we can explain the connection between the Haftorah, “Nachamu, Nachamu” and Parshas Vaeschanan. One of the fundamental aspects of Parshas Vaeschanan is the repetition of the Ten Commandments. Although the Ten Commandments are mentioned in Parshas Yisro, they are repeated together with all their details in Parshas Vaeschanan.
The nature of the context in which the Ten Commandments is mentioned inParshas Vaeschanan differs, however, from that of Parshas Yisro. In Parshas Yisro, the Jews were on the level of tzaddikim, and thus that narrative reflects the dimension of revelation from Above. In contrast, the narrative in Parshas Vaeschanan is part of Moshe’s rebuke of the Jewish people and thus it is associated with teshuvah and the service of elevating the worldly plane.4
Beyond this contrast, however, the very fact that the Ten Commandments are repeated points to, as do all repetitions as mentioned previously, the concept of infinity. And this represents an allusion to the infinite aspect of the Torah that will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption, “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”
More particularly, the two thrusts — revelation from Above, the service of thetzaddikim and elevation of the worldly plane, the service of the baalei teshuvah— will be included in this revelation. For “the [dimension of the] Torah will emerge” — i.e., it will go out from the realm of G‑dliness and enter the realm of human understanding and thus relate to the elevation of the worldly plane. Simultaneously, it will come “from Me,” i.e., it will be a revelation from Above. Furthermore, these two thrusts will be fused together as a single movement.
Based on the above, we can also appreciate another connection to this week’s Torah reading, G‑d’s reply to Moshe that it would be Yehoshua who would lead the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Although had Moshe led the people into the land, their entry would have been on a higher level, there was also an advantage to them being led by Yehoshua, for this represented an elevation of the earthly plane. This is reflected in the fact that the conquest of Eretz Yisrael was prolonged, taking seven years to conquer the land and seven years to divide it.5Since elevating the material plane within the context of its own perspective requires sustained effort, this amount of time was necessary.
As mentioned, had the entry to Eretz Yisrael been led by Moshe, there never would have been an exile. The potential for exile, however, and even the exile itself, must also be seen within a positive light. It is the exile which allows for the elevation of the world at large within its own context. In every land to which the Jewish people have been dispersed, they have elevated the material substance of the land, refining the sparks of G‑dliness enclothed therein.6 Thus through this service, the world itself has become elevated and prepared for the ultimate redemption.
Thus the entry into Eretz Yisrael described in Parshas Vaeschanan must be seen within a context of a greater scope. Since it prepares the world for the Future Redemption, it must be viewed as containing the potential for the ultimate fulfillment to be reached in that era.
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2. Our Sages stated, “Whoever labors in preparation (i.e., not only prepares, but labors in preparation) on Friday, will eat on Shabbos.” This applies in a spiritual sense as well and thus there is a connection between the present Shabbos and Friday which was the Fifteenth of Av.
The uniqueness of the Fifteenth of Av is reflected in that it is a day when the moon is full. This reflects a fullness and completeness within the Jewish people who “fix their calendar according to the moon, resemble the moon, and ultimately will be renewed as [the moon] is renewed.”7
Each month, the fullness of the moon reflects a state of completion in the fundamental service connected with that month. In regard to the present month, its very name Menachem Av, points to a connection with Moshiach, who will be named Menachem, “the comforter.” Similarly, our Sages describe Tishah B’Av as the day on which Moshiach was born, i.e., the day on which his spiritual source is endowed with additional power.8 Thus the Fifteenth of Av is a time when the potential for redemption reaches a state of completeness.
The connection to the redemption is also reflected by the fact that the Fifteenth of Av falls on Friday. Friday is the day of man’s creation. Our Sages explain that man was created on this day, the final day of creation “so that he would find everything prepared for the feast.” This is an allusion to the ultimate feast, the feast of the Leviathan and the Wild Ox, which we will enjoy in the Era of the Redemption.
Similarly, it was on the day of his creation that Adam called to all the created beings “Come let us bow and prostate ourselves before G‑d,” i.e., he brought the entire world to an acceptance of G‑d’s Kingship. And it is in the Era of the Redemption that G‑d’s Kingship will be revealed in a complete and manifest manner.
Our Sages associated the Fifteenth of Av with an increase in Torah study. “From the Fifteenth of Av onward, whoever adds the nights to the days in Torah study will have years added to his life.” Since “all Jews can be assumed to conduct themselves in a kosher manner,” we can presume that they have fixed times for Torah study and therefore, the increase desired is not merely limited in nature, but rather an increase which goes beyond the person’s ordinary limits. And it is through tapping the infinite potential in a Jew’s soul, each individual according to his nature,9 that we can reveal G‑d’s infinity. This will be reflected in the revelation of “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me” in the Era of the Redemption, for this will be an infinite dimension of the Torah. Similarly, it is connected with a true “increase in life,” the eternal life of the second period of the Era of the Redemption.
3. The above concepts are ever more relevant in the present year, a year when “I will show you wonders.” And we are constantly seeing newer and ever-increasing wonders. For example, during these very days, a Convention ofShluchim is being held in Russia with sessions being held in Lubavitch (where prayers will be said at the gravesites of the Rebbeim), in Alma Atta (where prayers will be said at the gravesite of my father on his yahrzeit, the 20th of Av), and in the capital of that country.
The purpose of this convention is to take on new resolutions to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit both in Russia and throughout the entire world. This is truly wondrous in nature. The country that fought so strongly against the activities of the Previous Rebbe is now paying host to and honoring his shluchim.
These wonders arouse our thirst for the ultimate wonder, the coming of Moshiach, when “as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”
This is particularly true as this year is drawing to its close. Nissan, “the month of redemption,” has already passed, and we are in the midst of Av, the fifth10month when counting from Nissan, which is connected with the redemption. Surely, this is a most appropriate time for the coming of the redemption.
Our conduct can hasten the coming of the redemption. Since we are “on the threshold of the redemption,” it is possible to appreciate a foretaste of the unlimited approach to the Torah and its mitzvos which will characterize the Era of the Redemption. And tasting such a foretaste of the Redemption will bring it closer.
The above implies making an increase in our study of the Torah as mentioned previously in connection with the Fifteenth of Av. This increase should be made both in the realm of Nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah law, and Pnimiyus HaTorah, Torah’s mystic realm. (In the latter realm is also included the study of Ein Yaakov, the Aggados from the Talmud, for “most of the secrets of the Torah are hidden within it.”) For as the AriZal emphasizes, it is a mitzvah to reveal the secrets of Pnimiyus HaTorah in the present age. This is particularly true since these teachings have been explained and made more accessible through the approach of Chassidus.
There should be a special emphasis on the study of those subjects associated with the Redemption, in particular a study of the portion of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim which describes the Redemption. Similarly, emphasis should be placed — as in the period of the Three Weeks — on the study of Hilchos Beis HaBechirah, the laws of the Construction of the Beis HaMikdash.
Also, attention should be paid to the explanation of these subjects in Pnimiyus HaTorah. In general, the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah is associated with the Redemption and thus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was told, “With this text of yours, Israel will be redeemed from exile with mercy.” In particular, however, the function of this study as a catalyst for the redemption is more powerful when the subject studied concerns that matter itself. To further enhance the influence of this study, it is desirable that it be conducted in groups of ten, for “when ten people sit and occupy themselves in Torah study, the Divine Presence is manifest among them.”
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4. This week we study the third chapter of Pirkei Avos. Similarly, the opening teaching of the chapter focuses on the number three, stating, “Reflect upon three things and you will not come close to sin.” Herein lies a connection to the Redemption for it is in the Era of the Redemption that the Third Beis HaMikdash will be revealed. Furthermore, as explained above, the Third Beis HaMikdash will be threefold in nature, expressing a unique quality of its own and combining the positive qualities of the two previous Batei HaMikdash.
We are told to “reflect upon three things,” alluding to the idea that our concern with the Third Beis HaMikdash and the Redemption associated with it should not be casual, but rather involve sustained concentration. And this should awaken an yearning and a desire to await Moshiach’s coming. How much more so is this true at present, when we are “at the threshold of the redemption.”
And in this way, “reflecting upon three things” will add a dimension of perfection to the three services upon which “the world stands, Torah, Divine service, and deeds of kindness.” For this will allow them to be carried out in an unlimited manner as will be in the Era of the Redemption.
Similarly, there is also a connection with the increase in Torah study mentioned above, for the Torah is described as “a threefold light.” And this increase will prepare us to appreciate “the new [dimensions of the] Torah which will emerge from Me” in the Era of the Redemption. Then, together with the entire Jewish people, with great happiness and celebration, we will proceed to Eretz Yisrael,to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash.