Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Parshat VeEtchanan - The significance of "Nachamu"

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Nachamu, since the Haftarah we read for VeEtchanan is Yeshayahu's prophecy which begins (Yeshayahu 40:1) "Nachamu Nachamu Ami," "you shall comfort, you shall comfort, my people." (More on the meaning of the word nachamu later, in another dvar torah.)

I think, though, that a yerushalmi brachos (2:4) can shed some more light on the significance of "Nachamu."

There, there is a discussion about the name of Mashiach, based on psukim and the like. We will jump in in the middle of the discussion.

"R Yehoushua ben Levi said 'Tzemach is his name.' R Yudan the son of R Aibo said 'Menachem is his name.' Chanina the son of R Abahu said, 'and they do not argue, for the gematria of this is equal to the gematria of this one. Thus Tzemach = Menachem.' (Not sure if this is anonymous or a continuation of Chanina's statement - seems anonymous, and R Bon replies to it. I don't know the respective generations:)

"And this assists that which R Yudan the son said. A story happened with a Jew who was standing plowing. His cow moo'd before him. An Arab passed by and heard her (the cow's) voice. He said, {Josh: knowing how to speak cow} 'Jew, Jew, untie your cow, untie your plow, for the Bet HaMikdash has been destroyed.' (The cow) moo'd a second time, he (the Arab) said to him, 'Jew, Jew, tie your cow, and tie your vessels (of plowing), for the Messianic King has been born.' He (the Jew) said 'What is his name?' 'Menachem.' He (the Jew) said, 'From where is he?' He (the Arab) said, 'From the capitol of the king of Bet Lechem in Yehudah.'

"He (the Jew) went and sold his cow and sold his vessels and he made himself into a seller of swaddling clothes for nursing babies, and he would enter a city and leave a city (travelling while selling swaddling clothes) until he entered to that city. And all the women bought, and the mother of Menachem did not buy. He heard the voice of the woman saying 'Mother of Menachem, mother of Menachem, come and buy for your son.' She said, 'I desire that the enemies of the Jews (pious way of saying "her son" which diverts the evil of the statement) should be strangled, for on the day he was born the Bet HaMikdash was destroyed.' He said to her, 'I trust that in his steps it was destroyed and in his steps it will be rebuilt.' She said to him, 'I have no money.' He said to her, 'What does it matter to me? Come and buy for him (Menachem). If you have none (no money) this day, after days I will return and take (payment).' After some days, he returned to that city. He said to her, 'What is happening with the nursing babe?' She said to him, 'From the time I (last) saw you, wind on whirlwind came and grabbed him from my hands.'

"R Bon said, 'Why should we learn from this Arab (that Mashiach is born the same day as the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash)? Is it not a full verse (Yeshaya 10:34)
"Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one."
{J: elsewhere, Lebanon is equated with the Bet HaMikdash which whitens (melaben) the sins of the Jews.} What does it say afterwards? (Yeshaya 11:1) "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse."

We can see from this story the meaning of Nachamu. For the first moo signified that the Bet HaMikdash was destroyed. But with "nach a moo," another moo, the Mashiach was on his way, and the Bet HaMikdash would be rebuilt! :) :) :)


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