Divrei Torah

PARSHAS VAESCHANAN 5777

This week’s Haftara begins with the words “be comforted, be comforted, My nation.” Why the double expression of comfort? The commentators offer various explanations. G-d is speaking to the Prophet Isaiah, “Make sure you comfort My people.” Another explanation, “Comfort them with the fact that the redemption will come, if you deserve it, earlier than expected, otherwise, in its appointed time.”

According to either explanation, G-d is telling the prophet Isaiah that the idea is to give encouragement to the Jewish people. True, at the present moment, the situation does not look too promising. You are in exile . . . you have wandered from country to country . . . the nations of the world don’t like you too much . . . you get blamed for all that goes wrong in the world . . . the nations of the world are trying to encourage you to give away the whole store. Don’t be discouraged . . . don’t let it harm your connection to G-d . . . Don’t worry about the statements coming from the United Nations or other high ranking officials. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not the train coming at you. Your standing in the world will improve . . . the nations of the world will respect you . . . you will be able to live at peace in your homeland . . . you won’t have to surrender anything from your country. 

Rabbi Juzint zt”l used to say that the idea of teaching is to encourage and not discourage. It is important for the leaders of our people to express hope and give encouragement – not give up hope and discourage. If the leaders remain upbeat, the people will have a positive attitude. If the spirit of the leaders is down, the people will have a negative attitude. How often have we found ourselves in a situation of leadership where we can make a difference? How will I be able to raise funds for this cause? How will I be able to get these kids to learn? That difference between success and failure will often be how we approach the matter.  If we approach the matter that “there is no way I can be successful raising funds” . . . “there is no way these students will ever be able to learn a thing”, you can almost be guaranteed that your fundraising won’t be successful and the students won’t learn. However, if you approach it with a positive attitude, “I can accomplish something here”, there is a much more probability of being successful.

When he was young, one teacher did not think that Winston Churchill would amount to much . . . Michael Jordan did not qualify for his high school basketball team . . . Nobody would publish the Dr. Suess books because all of the publishers thought it would be a failure. None of these predictions came true because all of these people were determined . . . they kept a positive attitude and therefore were successful. The Jewish people must keep such a positive attitude. Then, we will be successful. 

The Prophet Isaiah continues in the Haftara, “All of the nations are as nothing to Him, from nothing and emptiness they are considered to Him.” Nation after nation has threatened the Jewish people. Yet, we are still here and they are gone. Why? Because G-d has promised that we will always be around. He can take care of those other nations. 

If we do as G-d asks of us, we do Mitzvos and enable others to perform mitzvos, we will achieve that state of comforting, which will be to the benefit of the entire Jewish people, and ultimately the world.