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Shabbat of Comfort

07/22/2021 09:30:33 AM


Beth Schafer

This past Sunday Jews around the world observed Tisha B’Av. The ninth day of the month of Av is said to have been the date marking the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem and is a time of grief and mourning marked by fasting and chanting from the Book of Lamentations. Although many Reform Jews do not observe this day, it is a marker on the calendar worth noting as it sets up the following Shabbat known as Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation. The Haftarah portion for this week opens with the prophet Isaiah’s words, “Nachamu, nachamu, ami,” asking God to comfort our people for their suffering. This also begins a seven-week countdown to the New Year.

We have certainly lived and in many ways are still living through a time where much comfort is needed, and yet many of us are stymied as to how we can provide comfort in a situation that may or may not get better. What can we possibly say to someone who is terminally ill or someone who has suffered a devastating loss that would be of comfort? We can’t fix those things or find some rational reason for why they happened. What we can do, however, is be present in someone else’s suffering and say, “I hear your cries and I will sit with you.” We can help others (and ourselves) find meaning in the now by showing up in the moment without an agenda or judgment. We can infuse this very moment with meaning and purpose just being and loving.

As we set our sights on the New Year, we can practice being present; with the people around us and in the tasks we perform. We can diffuse discomfort by sitting in it bravely with those who need us, not with answers, but with love and commitment to the moment. These practices will only serve us well in our New Year observances and beyond. May all who are in need of comfort find it in a loving God and through all whom God puts on our path to help us through each day.

Shabbat shalom,


Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782