Friday, August 04, 2006

Nachamu Nachamu Ami

It’s post 9 Av, erev Shabbos Nachamu, and the neighborhood is already filled with the happy hum of washing machines, the music in every camp is queued up to start playing at chatzos, and the unshaven look will be gone for many of us before Shabbos. Nachamu Nachamu Ami… The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people are doubly-consoled (hence the repetition “nachamu nachamu…”) because they sinned doubly and were doubly punished. G-d meets out perfect justice - how is it possible to be doubly punished!? And if a double sin means sinning 2x, the punishment is not double-punishment, but a single punishment for each sin? Chardal's blog hit the nail right on the head, but I will add my 2 little cents. Seforim tell us that the 600,000 paradigmatic Jewish souls of Am Yisrael correspond to the 600,000 letters of a sefer Torah. Just as if one single letter is missing or defective, the entire sefer Torah becomes pasul, so too, if one Jew is defective in his observance, the nation as a whole is deficient. Our chataim are indeed “kiflayim”, doubled – when we sin, we taint not only ourselves, but we taint and weaken the soul of the Jewish nation. And when we are punished, we bear the punishment not alone, but the pain of each Jew has a doubled effect in creating suffering and weakness in the Jewish nation. “Nachamu nachamu AMI”, Be consoled, be consoled MY NATION. A single perfect letter is a pasul sefer Torah, for all its hiddur and beauty, is lacking in kedushas sefer Torah – only when the sefer as a whole is complete is that single letter also endowed with kedusha. And only to the extent that we view ourselves not as isolated individuals responsible only for our own religious fate, but as part of the greater nation of Am Yisrael, can we be receptive to the comfort of Nachamu.