The New Shul

Parshat Va-et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu

The Shabbat after the 9th of Av is called Shabbat Nahamu, the Shabbat of Consolation. It takes its name from the beginning of the haftarah, “‘Console, console my people,’ says your God.” With those words, the prophet Isaiah reassured the Jewish exiles in Babylon that God had not forgotten them.

Rabbi Barukh of Medzibozh taught that the essence of Isaiah’s consolation was the phrase “My people.” It was simply in knowing that we were still God’s people, that our relationship with God had not been broken, that we found comfort in our suffering.

Often, when we struggle in our lives, we cry out for an explanation. We ask “Why me?” But even if someone could tell us the answer, what comfort would it bring? Rabbi Barukh reminds us that, at such times, what we truly yearn for is not explanation but connection. Our deepest need is simply to know that we are not alone.

What is true in times of crisis is true in ordinary times as well. The purpose of religious life, at the deepest level, is not to explain but to connect — to bind us to each other and enable us, together, to experience God’s closeness. May the life of Torah that we build together bring such consolation to us all.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. This Shabbat, August 17, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Morrie and Carrie Aaron.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 pm.