This week’s alumni Dvar Torah is by Batsheva Leah Weinstein
We are in the midst of an eleven week period in which the haftorah read does not have to do with the parsha, rather with the theme of the time of year. The first three in the cycle were the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av in which we read prophesies about the destruction. The next seven are a cycle called the שבע דנחמתא which we read after Tisha B’Av and are prophesies comforting Bnei Yisrael. This week is the third of the seven week cycle (although in some shuls the specialhaftorah for Rosh Chodesh is read).
The Avudraham connects the seven haftaros to make it a chronological dialogue between Hashem, Bnei Yisrael, and the Neviim who are the intermediaries. The first haftorah starts with the words “נחמו נחמו” – be comforted, be comforted. This, says the Avudraham, is Hashem telling the Neviim to comfort Bnei Yisrael. The next week we read “ותאמר ציון עזבני ה'” – Bnei Yisrael respond to the Neviim, saying that they cannot be comforted because Hashem is not comforting them, it is only his messengers. This week we read “עניה סערה לא נחמה” – the Neviim return to Hashem and relay Bnei Yisrael’s message, saying the nation, who are afflicted, refuse to be comforted. The next week’s haftorah starts with “אנכי אנכי הוא מנחמכם” – Hashem Himself is coming to comfort the Jewish nation. The Neviim relay Hashem’s message in the next two haftaros, “רני עקרה” and “קומי אורי”, telling Bnei Yisrael to rejoice. In the final haftorah of the seventh week, Bnei Yisrael accept Hashem’s comforting with the words “שוש אשיש בה'” – I will rejoice with Hashem.
From this order of the haftaros, although not in the chronological order of the Navi, they are an order outlining the process of redemption. Redemption does not happen all at once; it is a procedure. First Bnei Yisrael are forgiven for their sins but are comforted only by messengers, not directly by Hashem. It takes seven weeks, in our relaying of it, until Bnei Yisrael are fully comforted. This cycle of seven haftaros is a message to us not to be discouraged. When we start seeing the light of the redemption, we are anxious for its coming and might become discouraged when it does not come at once. The message of these haftaros is that, although we may only see the beginning of the גאולה, and are impatient for its arrival, we know that it is a process in motion that will be completed, and that very soon we will be comforted by Hashem Himself, במהרה בימינו.
Batsheva Leah Weinstein (MA 2015-2016) is a junior at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School.