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  • Yehuda Pevzner

True Consolation

After the destruction of the Holy Temple, Rabbi Akiva and three other sages went up to Jerusalem. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies. The others started weeping; Rabbi Akiva laughed. They asked him why he was laughing, and he asked them why they were crying.

They explained that they were looking at the holiest place in the world, where only the high priest was allowed to enter on the holiest day of the year. “Now foxes run through it! How could we not cry!” the Sages say.


Akiva replied, “That is why I am laughing.” Then he continued, “One prophet said, ‘Zion will be plowed like a field’). Another prophet said, ‘there will come a time when old men and ladies, boys and girls, will once again sit together in the streets of Jerusalem’. Since the words of one prophet have been fulfilled, I now know that the words of the other prophet will also be fulfilled.”

With these words they replied to him: "Akiva, you have consoled us! Akiva, you have consoled us!"

The Shabbat after Tisha B’av, the day that we mourn the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples, is called Shabbat Nachamu, the “Shabbat of Comfort”. G-d is comforting us after our loss. A loss of such magnitude is so easily comforted. Both the sages in the story, as well as the opening verse in the Haftorah reading of this week, say, “Comfort, comfort.” Complete consolation is when not only is the loss brought back, but when we also have a promise for a brighter and better future. The true Nechama, the true consolation, is the coming of Moshiach, when we will have a rebuilt and renewed Bais Hamikdash, greater than the two previous temples, may it be speedily in our days!


Shabbat Shalom!


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