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8 Elul 5764 - August 25, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly
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Opinion & Comment
Comfort on the Tablets of Our Hearts

by Rabbi Mordecai Plaut, based on a shiur of a rosh yeshiva in Yerushalayim

As we read the seven haftorahs of comfort that lead up to the Yomim Noraim, these insights into the true meaning of true comfort should prove very valuable.

Part II

Part I discussed the fact that the seven haftorahs that we read from Tisha B'Av until Rosh Hashonoh show that consolation provides a crucial bridge that takes us from the Churban to the Tikkun that we have on Yom Kippur, equivalent to our receiving the Second Luchos on that day. However, we do not even understand what consolation is and how it could be possible. How can we console someone in the midst of a loss? Consolation does not mean distraction, so how is such a thing possible? It is certainly not enough to just read the haftorahs in public. We must assimilate within ourselves the consolation. There is a process to which we must join ourselves in order to pass from the Churban to the eventual Tikkun. In order to do this, as a first step we must learn what it is.

*

At the beginning of Brochos (5a) in the gemora on the posuk (Shemos 24), . . . vo'Etno lecho es luchos ho'even vehaTorah vehamitzvoh asher kosavti lehorosom, Chazal explain each of the terms in the posuk. Luchos ho'even -- this is the Ten Commandments. Torah -- this is Scripture. Vehamitzvah -- this is the Mishnah. Asher Kosavti -- these are the nevi'im ukesuvim. Lehorosom -- this is Talmud. All this teaches us (says the gemora) that all of them were given to Moshe Rabbenu on Sinai.

There is an obligation to learn everything that is mentioned in this posuk. All were given to us by Hashem. There is thus a chovoh gemuroh to learn nevi'im as well.

Chazal said that we fulfill this obligation through two pesukim we say every day: Uvo leTzion go'eil uleshovei pesha beYaakov ne'um Hashem, and the following posuk, Va'ani zos berisi osom omar Hashem, Ruchi asher olecho udevorai asher samti beficho, lo yomushu mipicho umipi zar'acho umipi zera zar'acho, omar Hashem, mei'atoh ve'ad olom (Yeshayohu 59:20-21). (And a redeemer will come to Zion and to those who return from sin in Yaakov, Hashem has sworn. And this is My covenant with them, Hashem said, My spirit and My words that I put into your mouth, will not budge from your mouth and the mouth of your descendants and the mouth of your descendants' descendants, Hashem said, from now until forever.)

With these two pesukim we fulfill our obligation to learn Nevi'im.

Incidentally, that is why we do not say these two pesukim in prayer when there is a haftorah. On Shabbos morning, for example, we do not say these two pesukim. We say them only at Minchah when there is no haftorah. When there is a haftorah, we thereby fulfill our obligation to learn Nevi'im and have no need to say these pesukim.

The Core of the Prophetic Message

Since they represent the entire literary body of prophecy, we have, it is expected that these two pesukim encapsulate the essence of what we have received from the prophets. What is this?

Prophecy itself originated at Sinai: Novi mikirbecho mei'achecho komoni yokim lecho Hashem Elokecho, eilov tishmo'u. Kechol asher sho'alto mei'im Hashem Elokecho beChoreiv . . . (Devorim 18:15-16) The Borei Olom said here that He promised at Sinai that He would send prophets.

The prophets were sent in order to continue what was begun at Ma'amad Har Sinai, namely, they bring us the dvar Hashem. In that, they are a continuation of the Ma'amad Har Sinai, since the prophets carry further elements of the dvar Hashem that we first experienced at Sinai.

This is, quite obviously and literally, a fulfillment of the posuk mentioned earlier: . . . devorai asher samti beficho, lo yomushu mipicho umipi zar'acho umipi zera zar'acho, omar Hashem, mei'atoh ve'ad olom. The dvar Hashem will not budge from us, forever, and it was thereby continued with us by prophecy as long as the latter existed. The dvar Hashem was kept in our mouths by the prophets who prophesied.

But, Chazal say, at the time of the first Churban, prophecy was taken from the nevi'im and given to chachomim. Omar Rav Avdimi demin Haifa: Miyom shechorav Beis Hamikdosh, nitlo nevu'ah min haneviim venitnoh lechachomim (Bovo Basra 12a). Evidently, this is the way to continue the presence of the dvar Hashem in Klal Yisroel: the devorai asher samti beficho . . . lo yomushu -- must now be propagated by the chachomim.

The same word of Hashem, the devorai asher samti beficho, that the prophets had, is now with the chachomim. It is through them that is fulfilled: lo yomushu . . . mei'ato ve'ad olom. The wise men are those through whom the Ma'amad Har Sinai itself stays with us, forever.

There is also another major component to the message of the prophets. (The two are parts of a single whole.) "All the nevi'im without exception, commanded teshuvoh (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvoh 7:5). The gemora (Megilloh 14a) itself also says: "Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says, `The taking off of the ring is greater than 48 prophets and seven prophetesses.' " This implies that all the prophets tried to effect what taking off the ring (of Achashverosh to authorize Hommon to murder the Jews) accomplished. Taking off the ring drove the Jews to teshuvoh, so we thereby see that all the prophets spoke about teshuvoh. It also says that all the prophets spoke about the days of Moshiach (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvoh 8:13).

"All the nevi'im -- without exception -- commanded teshuvoh and Yisroel is redeemed only through teshuvoh. And the Torah has promised that in the end Yisroel will do teshuvoh, at the end of their exile, and immediately they will be redeemed" (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvoh 7:5).

All the prophets spoke about teshuvoh and they promised redemption as a result of the teshuvoh. The Geulah comes to shovei pesha beYaakov, as stated in the posuk in Yeshayohu (59:20) that is said every day.

This was the main content of the message of the nevi'im to Klal Yisroel. They were certainly not sent to tell us halochos. It is well known that nevi'im cannot originate halochos.

Venosati devorai befiv (Devorim 18:18). This is what the nevi'im must do: they must give us the dvar Hashem. They must warn us to do teshuvoh and promise us Geulah. They must continue Ma'amad Har Sinai throughout all the generations.

*

We find, as we mentioned, that the nevi'im also bring us effective consolation, as reflected in the haftorahs we read. Nonetheless, in critical times, "Onochi, Onochi Hu menachemchem" (Yeshayohu 43:25) -- Hashem Himself is the One Who consoles us. This is certainly the highest level of consolation, reached when Hashem reveals Himself as "Onochi" and even a double "Onochi" as found in Yeshayohu.

We are as far from this as can be. We cannot even find any possibility for it within ourselves. We do not see how it can be that one can live, fully, with the greatest pain and anguish, and yet be successfully consoled.

It is an idea that is very far and very deep, but we can try to grasp it, even though we have no direct connection with it.

End of Part II

Click here to view Part 1.


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