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Double Comfort
This Shabbat is called “Shabbat Nachamu,” after the haftorah of this week which begins with the words “Nachamu, Nachamu ami”—Be comforted, may you be comforted, My people. It is the first of seven weeks of consolation following the destruction on the 9th of Av, during which we read prophecies offering comfort and promises of Redemption.

The haftorah of the first week begins with the double expression, “Be comforted, be comforted my people.” The Redemption will indeed be a double consolation for the double loss of two Holy Temples. However, in what sense will the consolation be doubled? Only one Temple will be rebuilt, and in that case, what difference does it make how many Temples preceded it that were destroyed?

The answer is that each of these Holy Temples had an advantage that was not found with the other. In the first Holy Temple the level of G-dly revelation was greater, as symbolized by the presence of the Holy Ark and the Tablets. In the second Temple, these were not present and the holiness was less. On the other hand it was physically larger and grander, and stood for a longer time.

The third Holy Temple will last forever and will include the advantages of both Temples—it will be spiritually greater than the first and physically greater than the second. In this sense it will truly be a double consolation.

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On Friday before Shabbat Nachamu we celebrate the 15th of Av, one of the premier Jewish holidays (the other being Yom Kippur).

What was so special about the 15th of Av? In the desert, after the sin of the spies who brought back negative tales about the land, the entire generation was condemned to die in the desert. Each year on the 9th of Av they would make preparations to die, and the next morning some of them would not awaken. When the 40th year came, on the 9th of Av they prepared for death as usual but in the morning all were alive. They thought they had perhaps made a mistake with the date. This scene repeated itself for the next five nights. When the 15th of Av came along and nobody had died, they saw the full moon and realized that there was no mistake. The decree of death had been lifted.

The 15th of Av represents the repair of everything that had gone wrong on the 9th of Av—the life that sprouts forth after destruction. The Midrash states, “A lion rose in the month of Leo and destroyed Ariel, in order that a lion may come in the month of Leo and rebuild Ariel.” The “lion” is Nebuchadnezzar, who arose in the month of Av (Leo) and destroyed the Holy Temple (Ariel). The destruction was only so that another lion, Moshiach, will come along in the month of Av and rebuild the Holy Temple. The exile was only for the purpose of rebuilding bigger and better than before.

Now we are awaiting the germination of all the seeds planted over the course of exile. We await the revelation of Moshiach, who will make all our past hardships seem worthwhile, with the full and complete revelation of Moshiach.
   
 

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