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V’Eschanan, Shabbos Nachamu: Shabbos Consoles us

אעברה נא ואראה את הארץ הטובה

“Please pass me through so I shall see the Good Land.” (Devarim 3:25)

Moshe Rabbeinu pleaded with Hashem to be able to at least pass through the Land of Israel, though he understood that he will be unable to live there. Hashem did not grant this request, saying: “It is enough for you; do not talk to Me anymore about this. Go up on the mountain and lift your eyes… and see it with your eyes, for you will not cross the Jordan.”

Why indeed did Hashem not grant Moshe’s request? Moshe pleaded for this with such intensity; he prayed 515 prayers to be able to enter Eretz Yisroel. Moshe’s reason for wanting so desperately to enter Eretz Yisroel was to serve Hashem on a greater level, as can only be achieved in the Holy Land. If so, why did Hashem refuse to allow this?

In response to Moshe’s pleas, Hashem told him to ascend the mountain and look at the Land. How would this help Moshe fulfill his deepest desire of serving Hashem on the level that can only be reached in Eretz Yisroel?

This Shabbos is called “Shabbos Nachamu” because this week’s Haftorah begins with the words: “Nachamu nachamu ami – be consoled, be consoled My nation.” What is the deeper meaning of the name “Shabbos Nachamu?”

The Gemara (Megillah 13b) relates how Haman came to Achashveirosh and slandered the Jewish people as lazy and disloyal subjects. Among his defamations he claimed that the Jewish people refuse to work. “All year they find excuses,” Haman ranted, “They say: ‘today is Shabbos, today is Pesach and we can’t work.’” Haman’s words should have been understood as gross exaggerations even by Achashveirosh. After all, there are only 52 Shabbosim and 7 days of Pesach; it is illogical to say that the Jews refuse to work all year due to these sixty days. There are still some 300 workdays left.

We can understand Haman’s intentions with the Gemara (Eiruvin 43b; Pesachim 13a) that lists the days of the year when Moshiach cannot come. These days include Shabbos and Yom Tov. Why indeed will Moshiach not come on Shabbos? After all, the Jewish people are waiting desperately for his arrival. We are counting the days when he will finally come; why would he find excuses to avoid coming on Shabbos or Yom Tov?

The Bluzhever Rav once asked this question while sitting in the Succah, and he answered his own question by saying: “Now as we sit in the Succah we can understand why Moshiach will not come on Yom Tov. Due to the holiness of this day, when we are in the presence of the Shechina and surrounded by the holy Ushpizin (the Seven Guests who visit every Jew on Succos), we feel as if we are in Gan Eden. Who would leave the Ushpizin behind in order to go out and welcome Moshiach? No one will go out to greet him, so Moshiach chooses not to come on Yom Tov!”

The same could be said about Shabbos. A person who merits feeling the holiness of Shabbos enjoys the feeling of Gan Eden on this day. He lacks for nothing as he is in the presence of the Shechina. On Shabbos, we are completely at peace and we may not feel the need to run out and welcome Moshiach. Because of this, Moshiach chooses not to come on Shabbos.

This is why this Shabbos is called Shabbos Nachamu, which can mean: “The Shabbos consoles us.” The weekdays are full of hardships due to our long and bitter exile, and we yearn for Moshiach to redeem us. This week especially, when we mourned the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, we were especially heartbroken about our bitter plight. However, when Shabbos arrives, and we merit feeling the holiness and the true inner peace of this day, we are consoled. On Shabbos and Yom Tov it is as if we have already been redeemed.

This is what bothered Haman. “All year” the Jewish people are free from their hard work – from the bitterness of their exile, because they are consoled week by week when Shabbos arrives, or when Pesach arrives. Shabbos and Yom Tov sustain the Jewish people during the entire year, and this gives them the strength to overcome their difficulties. Even though they are still in exile, on Shabbos and Yom Tov they feel as if they have already been redeemed.

The same can be said about Moshe. He pleaded with Hashem to pass through Israel in order to see the Land, but Hashem told him that he doesn’t necessarily have to physically pass through Eretz Yisroel in order to serve Hashem on a higher level. “It is enough for you,” said Hashem, “to ascend the mountain and look at the Land from a distance.” You are on such a high personal level that by looking at Eretz Yisroel you can achieve all the greatness that one can achieve by living in Eretz Yisroel. Even though Moshe never entered Eretz Yisroel, by seeing the Holy Land it was as if he was there.

The great tzaddik the Yismach Moshe once dreamed about Gan Eden. In his dream he saw all of the tzaddikim sitting and learning. “Is this all there is to Olam Habbah?” he asked in his dream. He was told, “A person who learns Torah has Gan Eden inside himself!” In a similar way, Hashem told Moshe that he doesn’t have to actually be in Eretz Yisroel, but he can merit having Eretz Yisroel inside himself.

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