This week’s haftarah is the single most longed-for haftarah of the entire year. Until now, the Three Weeks and Tisha b’Av have forced us to focus upon the trials and tribulations of our nation’s history. Suddenly, Tisha b’Av ends and we are greeted with Yeshayahu’s proclamation of comfort: “Nachamu nachamu ami yomar Elokeichem.”
The world returns to its normal rhythms, and we are no longer preoccupied with the dire times of Jewish history. Our national aveilut (mourning) ceases, at last.
Yet, what kind of nechama (consolation) has really been achieved? The Beit HaMikdash remains in ruins, anti-Semitism, both in the United States and the rest of the world, grows ever stronger, and Israel is continually reviled in many of the world’s “halls of justice.”
A powerful response to this question is contained in Eicha, the megillah of Tisha b’Av that concerns itself with unspeakable tragedy: “This I reply to my heart; therefore, I have hope. Verily, the kindnesses of the L-rd never cease. Indeed, His mercies (rachamov) never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The L-rd is my portion,’ says my soul; ‘therefore, I will hope in Him’.” (3:21-24)
In the midst of some of the most horrific prophecies ever uttered, Yirmiyahu (Talmud Bavli, Bava Batra 15a) is teaching us a fundamental lesson of faith and hope: The kindnesses of the L-rd never cease! Indeed, His mercies never fail! They are new every morning.”
No matter what we may encounter in our lives, we must ever remember that “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” Yirmiyahu is reminding us that we must search ceaselessly for Hashem’s chasadim and rachamim, with the expectation that they will be found. Little wonder, then, that in the very next pasuk in Megillat Eicha he declares,“The L-rd is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.”
Yeshayahu joins Yirmiyahu in urging us to seek Hashem’s presence. In one of his most famous pasukim he exhorts us: “Dirshu Hashem b’hematzo, k’ra’uhu bi’yoto karov” (“Seek the L-rd where He is found, call Him when He is near”) (55:6) Yet, where, exactly, is Hashem to be found?
The Kotzker rebbe zatzal addresses this question directly in one of his best-known aphorisms: “Where is G‑d? Wherever He is allowed in!”
This is a profound idea. It inspires us to allow Hashem into every part of our lives. As stated by the Kotzker on another occasion: “He who doesn’t see G-d everywhere, isn’t capable of seeing Him anywhere.”
Armed with this enhanced understanding of our haftarah’s pasuk, “The L-rd is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him,” may we go forward with the discernment and heartfelt dedication to ever seek Hashem’s ineffable presence.
As Dovid HaMelech said so long ago: “Shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid” (“I have placed the L-rd before me constantly”) (Sefer Tehillim 16:8) V’chane yihi ratzon.