How can we comfort God?

Jonah Gershman, Lily Daroff and Eli Winston making aliya with "Garin Tzbar"

This Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation. Who exactly needs to be consoled?

In the Midrash Zuta Eicha, we see two different views:

The first view is that God comforts Am Yisrael for the loss of their city, Jerusalem.

The second view is that we. Am Yisrael, comfort God for the loss of His city, Jerusalem.

The midrash explains:

If a man’s wife passes away, God forbid, the husband must to be comforted. In Eicha 3:6, Zion is compared to a person who died: “He has placed me in darkness like the eternally dead.” Since God is like the husband and Zion, the wife, then we must comfort God after Zion is destroyed, just as we would comfort a mourner after the loss of their spouse.

The midrash continues:

If chas v’chalila children pass away, their parents need to be comforted as it says in Yirmiyahu 5:20: “…My sons have left me and are no more…” Since God is like the parent, He needs to be consoled.

If chas v’shalom someone’s house is destroyed in a fire, that person needs compassion as it says in Yirmiyahu 52:13: “He burned the Temple of God, the king’s palace and all the buildings of Jerusalem; and every great house he burned in fire,” so too does God need “nechama” when His house, the Beit HaMikdash is destroyed in a fire.

If a vineyard is cut down, we sympathize with the owner. So too, B’nei Yisrael are God’s vineyard as it says in Yishayahu 5:7: “Now the vineyard of God, Master of Legions, is the House of Israel.”

In this week’s Haftara from Yishayahu 40:1 we read, “Nachamu , Nachamu Ami”, usually translated as “Comfort, comfort, my people”, but according to this midrash it also means “Nachamuni, Nachamuni”, “Comfort Me, My people.” After everything that God went through, He wants us to comfort Him.

How can we possibly comfort God?

One way is to try to recreate what was lost.

Through immigration, we are actively returning the exiles to our homeland. This summer, 2,282 new olim are making aliya from North America with Nefesh B’Nesh. I am proud to say that I know some of the new immigrants including a few of the 196 olim who are joining the army through “Garin Tzabar.”

Just a few months ago, the Moshav, Mevo Modiim was destroyed by a fire. We must all do what we can to help the residents replace what was lost and rebuild the community from scratch. The community members have already felt an outpouring of love and we need to make sure that this momentum continues until their homes are rebuilt.

When travelling throughout Israel, one may notice the beautiful vineyards and wineries which have sprung up all over the country. Grapes are part of the “shivat haminim”, the seven species of Israel and have been here from Biblical times. If you don’t have the opportunity to visit the wineries, just walk into any store with kosher wine, check out how many varieties are available from all over Israel and support Israel’s wine industry.

Immigration, building and planting in the Modern State of Israel are some of the ways that we can do our part in the daunting task of comforting God.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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