Seeking Comfort

How do you find comfort? What do you do when something or someone in your life, community or in world news causes you pain? How do you get in touch with the pain and also find new ways of self-comfort?

When my children were babies, I remember learning that it was important that they learn to self-comfort. If every time a child cries, a parent or guardian rushes to the child’s side, how will the child learn to cope on his or her own? My boys, I remember, each had a blanket that was precious in the going to sleep process.

One of my friends, when times are hard, reads from the Book of Psalms (Tehilim) when she is in distress. I feel she is fortunate that she can find comfort in that manner.

Today is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, the fast day of Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av, the day when the Beit HaMikdash, the holy temple that was in Jerusalem, was destroyed. Other tragic events happened on this date as well. In two days we read the haftorah from the Book of Isaiah, in which he proclaims (Isaiah 40:1-2) –

Comfort, comfort my people, so says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

“Double from sins”? – Is this referring to then or now? It seems the pain continues to this day; the warfare does not seem at an end.

And later Isaiah says (Isaiah 40:7-8) –

Indeed man is but grass: Grass withers, flowers fade – but the Word of our God is always fulfilled!

We can read all of Isaiah (especially the part from Chapter 40 and on), and some of us may find some comfort in the words. For many of us, struggling to understand the words of the ancient prophet is as far as we can get. Perhaps we are meant to know that even if we don’t understand the Big Picture, God does.

So getting back to comfort, here’s a short list from me, perhaps I can get your creative juices running, too:

  • Write a blog post.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Paint. Draw. Putter in the garden. Find a creative outlet.

More on comfort and Isaiah:
Comfort, Comfort (2005) by Professor Gary A. Rendsburg, chair of the department that I do work for at Rutgers, the Jewish Studies Department

More on Tisha B’Av:
Baila explains how it is hard to be a Jew, even if she is finally living in a Jewish homeland.

On the upcoming parsha (Torah portion of the week):
Ilana-Davita looks for a response to current troubles by studying Parshat Va-Etchanan.

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25 thoughts on “Seeking Comfort

  • Creativity is indeed one of the best ways to find comfort. Along with good friends of course. That’s why blogging is so wonderful. It brings it all together.

    • Yes, blogging can be wonderful! I guess you haven’t visited many of those blogs where commentators can get snarky – never mind, you aren’t missing much.

  • I comfort myself by thinking it all out in my head over and over, that if I feel pain or sad emotions then I cry it out to myself and just think about how I’m feeling, and then somehow that cleanses me so that I feel comforted and can move on.

    I also find writing blog posts and listening to music help. I wish I can connect with the tehillim more.

    “but the Word of our God is always fulfilled!”

    That is a comforting thought.

    Hope you are fasting well.

    • I wish I could relate to Tehillim more as well…it helped when I studied Psalms with Ilana-Davita last summer. And now studying Isaiah a bit helps, too.

  • I’ll talk to a close friend. If the pain makes me angry, I’ll go do something physical like punch holes thru doors. Nah, more like go bike riding, or, more frequently, clean my house. Makes my wife happy too 🙂

  • I receive comfort through talking it out with a close friend or family member.

    Reading for me is spiritually comforting, as is writing (blog posts, or otherwise). Also, taking photographs is comforting for me.

    • I am good at repressing certain emotions, too, Ilana-Davita. Art is an outlet for me, all-be-it a lonely one, because one is not really talking about the emotion, just expressing it in a visual way, which others will probably not be able to read. I keep trying.

  • My comfort is (are?) my friends. (That may just be the most awkward sentence I have written). Different friends for different things.

    And prayer. Not the formal kind, the kind I do on my own.

    Good post, and thanks for the link.

    • I am working toward writing posts that explain Judaism but have a universal theme, such as comfort or consolation in this one, so everyone can relate. For those of us with a Jewish education, I think the universal themes help us understand our own traditional practices as well.

  • Thank you for this thoughtful and honest post, Leora. I was just on Dina’s blog and learned about Tish B’Av…though I have read Lamentations I did not realize its meaning in the Jewish tradition.

    Ah, the Book if Isaiah is one of my favorite books; I have always loved it and found it comforting; many of the Psalms too.

    I deal with pain best via solitude and prayer and thinking it over inside, and of course, tears. I don’t do well talking things over with others but tend to keep it all to myself. Lately I have noticed a few painful things around…little incidents of cruelty I have witnessed or heard of. I take comfort in knowing God is there and he sees and hears us.

  • I find that my blog has really helped me get my head around the journey that I’m making, which hasn’t always been easy, and will no doubt throw some surprises my way in the future. If I don’t have my computer to hand, then I write in a notebook.

    If things are really tough, I get out on my bike and cycle wherever my wheels take me – to the sea usually!

    And of course, the arms of a loved one always help.

    Thanks for this post.


  • Tisha b’Av we had two shiurim in the neighborhood. ONe in English and one in Hebrew. I ended up going to both. The weather had cooled down and it was good to get out.

    Please pray refuah shleimah for a neighbor who had serious surgery:
    Neomi Rivka bat Bluma

    Tizku l’mitzvot

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