20 Tishrei 5782 / Sunday, September 26, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Va'etchanan: Voice in the Wilderness    

Va'etchanan: Voice in the Wilderness

How could we possibly merit the geulah early? In every generation there are tzaddikim who uphold Torah, but they always seem to be in the minority…


Parshat Va’etchanan – Shabbat Nachamu

א  נַֽחֲמ֥וּ נַֽחֲמ֖וּ עַמִּ֑י יֹאמַ֖ר אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם: 
"Console, console My people, says your G-d ..." (Isaiah 40:1)
Thus begins this week's Haftorah, which, traditionally, follows the week in which Tisha B'Av falls. This Shabbos is thus called, "Shabbos Nachamu," the "Shabbos of Consolation," meant as a consolation for the mourning of Tisha B'Av. This theme will continue throughout the upcoming weeks as well.
The words are G-d's command to His prophets, to tell the people of the eventual redemption, which may come early if we merit it, or by the last possible time if we don't (Malbim). But come it will, whether we believe it or not, whether we have the patience to wait for it or we don't.
The question is, how could we possibly merit the geulah early? In every generation there are tzaddikim who uphold Torah, but they always seem to be in the minority, and G-d deals with us based upon what the majority of the nation is doing (Pri Tzaddik, Vaeschanan, 17). Today, how many millions of Jews have drifted so far from Torah that they now have little or no respect for Torah and those who uphold it?
For this reason, says the Pri Tzaddik, the prophet said:
ג  ק֣וֹל קוֹרֵ֔א בַּמִּדְבָּ֕ר פַּנּ֖וּ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהֹוָ֑ה יַשְּׁרוּ֙ בָּֽעֲרָבָ֔ה מְסִלָּ֖ה לֵֽאלֹהֵֽינוּ: 
A voice calls, "In the desert, clear the way of the L-rd, straighten out in the wilderness, a highway for our G-d." (Yishaya 40:3)
The voice referred to, says the Pri Tzaddik, is a Bas Kol (Heavenly Voice) that goes out every day. It is the thoughts of teshuvah that emanate from every Jewish soul as it contemplates and wonders what its purpose is in life, and its intended direction. This may not be a voice that we can hear with our own ears, and often its manifestation is not visible to our physical eyes. However, it is a voice that G-d can hear, and at the right time, it will become a voice that all of us will be able to hear as well.
This may be hard to believe, but as someone who has been in outreach for over a decade now, I can personally testify to the dramatic transformations of Jews whom, I had thought at first encounter, were not relevant to complete teshuvah. Everything about them, at least externally, had suggested that they had become so inundated by secularism that even their "pintele Neshamah," G-d forbid, remained unreachable.
But it hadn't disappeared. It had merely been muffled, and given the right moment and the right rabbi, the questions poured out as it became clearer to me that the person before me was really only in search of his self, his Jewish self. It was amazing how many questions, important questions about life, poured out, like a well-spring that had built up pressure below the earth's surface. For me personally and for others who have spoken of similar encounters, such experiences offer great consolation when fighting what feels like a terrible uphill battle against assimilation and intermarriage.
As we turn the corner once again from the tragedies of the infamous ninth day of Av and point our sights in the direction of Rosh Hashanah and national teshuvah, may we merit to be consoled as a nation, and to hear the collective Jewish voice go out as we "pave" the "highway for our G-d" right across our Jewish hearts.
Pinchas Winston is the author of over 95 books on various topics that deal with current issues from a traditional Jewish perspective. He has also written on the weekly Torah reading since 1993, called Perceptions”, as well as on current topics and trends affecting Jewish history, past and present. One of his missions is to make the depth and beauty of the more mystical teachings of Torah understandable and accessible to those who can really benefit from them. Visit his website at thirtysix.org.

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