“Be comforted, be comforted, My people.”
What exactly is so comforting about Shabbos Nachamu? We just completed a painful three-week process, trying to internalize how lost we are without the Beis HaMikdash. On Tish’ah B’Av we sat on the floor and bemoaned all of the tragedies that have taken place since, and as a result of, the Churban. But has anything changed since then? Unfortunately, despite the very meaningful Tish’ah B’Av experiences, we still find ourselves in exile, bereft of a Mikdash. Why should we feel any sense of consolation – and what does Shabbos have to do with any of this?
In order to better understand the n’chamah, we need to first analyze what precisely we were mourning on Tish’ah B’Av – and on every day, for that matter. Is it simply that we miss having a beautiful temple with radiant kohanim, inspiring services, and stunning utensils? While we certainly yearn to have all of those again, that is not the true focus of our tears and sorrow.
At its core, we are lamenting the loss of our personal relationship with Hashem. When we had a Mikdash and its open miracles, we were able to feel Hashem’s presence tangibly, to experience His closeness as much as humanly possible. And on Tish’ah B’Av it hits us hard: We no longer have that opportunity; our connection with Hashem has been severed! And we begin to cry.
But then that first Shabbos arrives, and with it, a reminder: All is not lost; we do maintain a special connection with Hashem – no matter where we are. While we engage in t’filah and mitzvos all week long, it is only Shabbos that allows us to achieve true closeness with Hashem in galus. In fact, our connection with the Divine on Shabbos is so palpable, that it is akin to standing in the Beis HaMikdash itself (Rav Shimshon Pincus, Shabbos Malk’sa, p. 111).
It is no coincidence that a Mikdash may not be constructed on Shabbos (Y’vamos 6a). Nor is it by chance that the forbidden m’lachos of Shabbos are the very same actions necessary for building a house for Hashem (Shabbos 49b). It is as if Hashem is saying: You do not need to work to create a space for Me today; I am already here.
Shabbos is our greatest source of comfort at this time, as we suspend our aveilus and cherish the unbreakable bond “between [Hashem] and the Jewish people, an everlasting sign” (Sh’mos 31:17). As we eagerly await the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and the return of Hashem’s heightened presence, we take solace in the fact that we still have our weekly rendezvous with the Sh’chinah. Moreover, it is the merit of proper Shabbos observance that will lead to immediate redemption from this bitter exile (Shabbos 118b). If we show Hashem that we appreciate the weekly connection, we just might be deserving of the full-time relationship.
Now that’s a comforting thought!