The first Shabbat after Tish’ah BeAv is called Shabbat Nachamu, based on the Haftara that starts with the words, “Nachamu, nachamu ami”, Give comfort, give comfort, to my people, says your God.
This opens the 7 weeks of comfort, repentance and the vision of redemption in the future days. In these weeks that lead up to Rosh Hashana, we, as a nation are getting consolation after the days of mourning, in the 3 weeks and Tish’ah BeAv.
In the first Parasha, Va’etchanan, God let’s Moses know that he will not be entering the land of Israel. According to the Midrash, Moses prayed 515 times, the numeric value of the Hebrew word “Va’etchanan”, to be allowed to enter the land, but then God tells him to stop praying. The reason being, that if Moses would have said only one more prayer, then God would have had to answer his prayers and let him into the land.
But what would have been so terrible if Moses would lead the people into the land? The explanation is, that if Moses would enter the land, he would then build the Holy Temple and a Temple that was built by Moses would never have been able to have been destroyed. So what would have happened when the Jews later sinned? The people would have annihilated instead of the Holy Temple. In order to avoid such a situation, God forbid Moses from entering the land and building the Temple.
This was of course a very harsh punishment for Moses, after suffering the complaints and the sins of the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, after protecting them, praying for them again and again, he wasn’t able to get the reward of entering the land. Moses was a prophet, the greatest prophet we ever had, he must have known all that, he knew that if he would continue to pray, he would get his way in the end, but he was a true leader, he was willing to give up his reward for the people he so badly wanted to protect.
Moses warns the people what would happen if they will misbehave in the future, they will be expelled from the land and be destroyed. But in Chapter 4, verses 30 and 31, we have for the first time the concept of repentance. “When you are in trouble and all these things have come on you, if, in the future, you are turned again to Adonai your God, and give ear to his voice. Because Adonai your God is a God of mercy, he will not take away his help from you or let destruction overtake you, or be false to the agreement which he made by an oath with your fathers.”
So we see something very powerful here, at the same time when Moses is giving himself up for the wellbeing of the people, at the same time when he know they will definitely sin in the future, while he is saying his last words to them, he is planting hope in their hearts so they know there is always a way to make things better again. In Judaism there is always room for repentance, for fixing our bad behaviours, our future can always become good again if we decide to do the right thing.
And that is the power of the 7 weeks we are in now, the Haftarot we are reading show us that no matter how difficult our lives are now, there is always something better to come, and that outcome is solely based on the way we decide to act, the power of a better future lies in our hands, our personal future, the future of our loved ones and the future of the entire world. Let us remember that and not take our actions lightly, because we bare that responsibility to ourselves, our surroundings and future generations. May we merit to see the Messianic days where the world will be a better place forever and ever.