Shabbat Nachamu August 3, 2017

“Can you believe it’s already August? Summer’s almost over.” It is a common refrain at this time of year. Perhaps we all begin to feel a bit anxious as summer wanes, but in the Jewish world, there is a reason for our anxiety: Soon the Days of Awe will be upon us, and we wonder if we will be ready. The rabbis who chose the weekly Haftarah readings were keenly aware of the season, the Torah theme of the week, and the psyche of those who would be listening to the scripture lesson in the synagogue. For this season, they chose seven messages of “nechemta,” comfort, partly to help us move out of the mode of mourning that pervades the Tisha B’av observance we have just completed. But, I believe they were also trying to help us cope with the coming of the season of repentance. Texts of comfort from the prophet Isaiah are shared each week, beginning with this week’s Shabbat Nachamu, Shabbat of Comfort, echoing the beginning words of the Haftarah: “Nachamu, nachamu, ami,” Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people.” (Isaiah 40:1)