Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We Want Hashem And Nothing Less

Audio Version By Rabbi Sholem Perl

This week's Haftora is the second Haftora of consoling. It begins "And Zion said, 'Hashem has forsaken me...'" It follows last week's Haftora, Nachamu Nachamu, the doubled consoling. It seems strange that after a doubled consoling, Zion should be saying, "Hashem has forsaken me."

Being that our great sages set up the Haftoras this way, we must conclude that there is something happening here. Why is it, that after a doubled consoling, we are left feeling alone?

Let me explain.

Sometimes you can feel alone even when you are with the one you love, especially when they are acting distant.

After the doubled consoling of last week, we, as the Jewish people begin to realize our self worth, that we are Hashem's beloved and that we are one with Him. If so, the question arises, why is Hashem sending His prophets to console us? Why does He not console us Himself? This is now taken as a rejection, therefore we feel alone.

How great is the position of a Jew? Why is the consoling of prophets not enough?

In Pirkei Avos, we read, "know before Whom you will have to give a judgment and a reckoning."  Normally you first give a reckoning and that is followed by a judgment. Why is the order here reversed, first the judgment followed by the reckoning?

To understand this let's take a look at another saying in Pirkei Avos, "and payment is exacted from the person, with his knowledge and without his knowledge." The Baal Shem Tov explains, that because our Neshama is actually a part of Hashem, the Heavenly Court has no power over a Jewish person. In order to pass judgment on a Jewish person, they put before him, during his lifetime, a scenario of someone committing the same transgression that he committed. When he sees this, he passes judgment, thereby passing judgment on himself. It is with his knowledge, because he is the one who is passing judgment. It is without his knowledge, because he doesn't realize that he is judging himself.

When he comes before the Heavenly Court,  he has already passed judgment on this scenario, so the judgment comes first. All that is left to do is the reckoning, to show that his case is the same as the scenario, that he himself judged.

What we understand from all this, is that only a Jew can pass judgment on himself. Not an angel nor the Heavenly Court has any power over him. So be careful to, "Judge others favorably," as you may be judging yourself.

This is also true in the physical world, no one has power over us. It is we who give power to others over us. As the verse in our Haftora says "...those who destroy you and those who lay waste to you, will come out of you."

This is what a Jew is all about, we have the power to change the world, but the world has no power over us. The only power anyone has over us, is what we give them. This is because, our Neshamas are a part of Hashem that makes us one with Hashem. In the words of the Baal Shem Tov, "When you are grasping on to a part, you are actually grasping the whole thing." Every one of us is a part of Hashem.

Knowing how special we are, we realize that we deserve more. Although we were in a dark situation and a doubled consoling through prophets pulled us out, now, as we begin to experience our intrinsic bond with Hashem, consoling through prophets, just won't cut it. We want the real thing, Hashem Himself and nothing less. When we don't, we feel alone.

Ultimately we will get what we are asking for, as we see in the last verse of the Haftora, "For Hashem will console Zion..."

May we soon experience Hashem's consoling, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.


  1. THe Baal Shem Tov's explanation of the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos is very powerful. I found the conection with the Haftorah to be very enlightening. Thank you.

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