Vaeschanan – Heart to Heart Talk

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Nachamu based on the opening pasuk of the haftorah: “Nachamu, nachamu ami…” It is the haftorah of consolation read the Shabbos after Tisha b’Av. The first two pesukim of the haftorah state: “Be comforted, be comforted my nation, says your G-D. Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim (referring to the Assembly of Israel) and call to her for her days are filled for her sin is finished for she accepted from the hand of Hashem double [suffering which was given to her through the nations] for all her sins” (Yeshayahu 40:1-2).

The Ibn Ezra, according to his own understanding of these pesukim, says that they refer to our current exile. He points out that the repetition of “nachamu, nachamu” is speaking to the prophet or the leaders of the nation in a quick fashion, or second after second, meaning this is an emotional statement intoning: ‘may you be comforted quickly or constantly’. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Ibn Ezra then says on the beginning of the next pasuk that “one should always speak to the heart in order to remove depression and worry that passes through another.” That is what the pasuk refers to when it says: “Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim”.

The Ibn Ezra is making a bold statement that one should always speak to the heart in order to remove depression and worry. It sounds as if taking successful action to remove the depression or to speak intellectually to the issue in a way that would seem to resolve the worry would still not take care of the problem for anyone – even men of tremendous intellect, sages and leaders of the generation. Why, seemingly, is this the only method to get rid of depression, or at least always must be included in the formula of removing depression and worry?
In context, Yeshayahu’s prophecy is referring to Hashem talking to the Gedolim, rabbinical leaders of the generation, at the end of days. It will be a time in history when the redemption will have come or is undoubtedly imminent. The sense of depression and worry through the generations of exile should therefore be erased; yet this heart to heart conversation is needed for every single Jewish individual.

It would seem that talking emotionally to one who has depression or worry is the only means to get through to them, because you are addressing the emotion with an emotion; you are speaking their language. Hashem showed us how to do this by saying: “Be comforted, be comforted my nation,” in a tone which conferred a sense of consistency or swiftness. A statement which intoned a sense of care and compassion with whom he was talking. May this comfort come speedily in our days.