Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Shabbat Nachamu (be comforted)
This week we ended the 3 week period of lamentation and repentance with the observance of the 9th of Av (the day of commemoration of the destruction of the two Temples). There is a change from grieving to anticipation of when HaShem will ultimately comfort His people with the coming of Messiah. One can look forward to this event because G-d is faithful! In this week’s Torah portion HaShem causes Moses to prophecy that Israel will rebel against His word and He will cast them from the land of Israel and scatter them throughout the nations (see Deut. 4:25-28). History shows that this has happened. What is also important and inherently related to the faithfulness of G-d is His promise to bring back a remnant of His people to the LAND OF ISRAEL. When will He do this?
“…at the end of days, you will return unto HaShem your G-d and listen to His voice.” Deut. 4:30
Notice that this promise is for the latter days! Those who believe that G-d’s promise to the Jewish people in regard to the Land is no longer relevant are insulting HaShem’s integrity. It is significant that in the following passage Moses speaks about the cities of refuge. Three of the cities were to be east of the Jordan River, that is, in modern day Jordan. How can this be? Because later on in the book of Deuteronomy one reads that HaShem will increase the borders of Israel (see Deut. 19:8). It is not an accident that this verse comes immediately after Moses speaks once again about the cities of refuge. One learned in Parashat Masei there were to be six cities of refuge. Three cities would be west of the Jordan River and three cities east. Why should there also be cities of refuge east of the Jordan? To demonstrate that in the last days the nation of Israel will not only be restored, but Israel will rule over all the nations.
Who will be the leader of Israel at this time? Israel’s next king, King Messiah. Over and over there is a need to remind individuals that the promises made to Israel are just as secure as those made to the nations concerning salvation. What one needs to remember is that there is a connection between these two promises. In returning to the matter of cities of refuge, one learns an important point. One is accountable to others, and of course before G-d, not just for the things he intended to do, but also for the actions and the result of those actions that he did not intend to do. The cities of refuge remind one that he is supposed to be a responsible person. So often today there is a tendency to excuse people, to say they are a victim of their circumstances. This week’s parasha reminds us that G-d’s people are responsible people who own up to their behavior and are quick to make amends to try to set the wrong right, rather than running to one who will try to justify one’s actions as the results of a problem for which one cannot really be held accountable.
Someone once said that maturity is seen by the ability to handle responsibility.
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