After the tragedy of Tisha B’Av, our mood changes. This Shabbat is called Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation.
It takes its name from the words of Isaiah: “Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people, says the L-rd your G-d. Bid Jerusalem take heart … I am the One who comforts you, says Hashem.”
Leading up to Tisha B’Av, we had three weeks of Haftorahs that scolded the people for straying away from G-d and warning us of the impending destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
After Tisha B’Av, we have seven weeks in which we read comforting words from the prophets that remind us of G-d’s promise to never forsake us and to restore our relationship.
For the next seven weeks, the prevailing mood is not one in which we focus on our failures, but rather one in which we emphasize the eternal nature of our covenant with Hashem. Our relationship with Him may have been strained but will never be broken.
Notice too that the length of the period of consolation is more than twice the length of the time of admonition. Like a parent, G-d disciplines His children and rejects their bad behavior. But He leaves us with the impression and reassurance that He still loves us.
We can still be a “kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation.” We must learn the lessons of the churban, the destruction, and move on. Let us work together to correct our errors and to return to the closeness with the Holy One Above that we had previously.
Rabbi Eli Seidman is the director of pastoral services at the Jewish Association on Aging. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.