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.