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Aug. 1, 2015
Av 16, 5774

Tu B'Av

Va'etchanan
 

Deut. 3:23-7:11
[Table Talk]

Isaiah 40:1-26
[more here]

Matt. 23:31-39;
Mark 12:28-34

 

Shabbat Nachamu (שַׁבַּת נַחֲמוּ)

The prophet Zechariah (זְכַרְיָה) foresaw the future Messianic Era when the various fast days of the Jewish year will be transformed into to appointed times of great joy (Zech. 8:19): "Thus says Adonai Tzeva'ot (יהוה צְבָאוֹת): The fast of the fourth month (Tzom Tammuz), and the fast of the fifth month (Tishah B'Av), and the fast of the seventh month (Tzom Gedaliah), and the fast of the tenth month (Asarah b'Tevet), will be to the house of Judah for joy and rejoicing, and for pleasant appointed seasons, and the truth and the peace they have loved (וְהָאֱמֶת וְהַשָּׁלוֹם אֱהָבוּ)."

Because of this prophecy of coming consolation for Israel, on the Sabbath immediately following the fast of Av (i.e., Tishah B'Av) we recall the promise of coming comfort from the LORD God of Israel. Therefore the sages named this Sabbath the "Sabbath of Comfort" (i.e., shabbat Nachamu: שַׁבַּת נַחֲמוּ) and assigned the prophetic portion from the Book of Isaiah that begins: נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי - Nachamu, Nachamu ami - "be comforted, be comforted, my people..." (Isa. 40:1). The sages reasoned that the word nachamu was repeated to offer consolation for both Temples that were destroyed. Thematically, this Shabbat marks a time of joy over anticipated comfort: Despite present tribulations, the LORD will vindicate His glory and completely ransom His people.


 

Shabbat Nachamu marks the start of a series of seven weekly readings related to the final redemption of the Jewish people - and indeed the entire world (these readings are sometimes called "The Seven Haftarot of Consolation," or "Shiva D'nechemta" in Aramaic). In other words, we have seven weeks to prepare for the start of the new year (Rosh Hashanah) and the High Holidays - a prophetic season that concerns the return of Yeshua. From the Sabbath following Tishah B'Av until Rosh Hashanah, we read words of comfort from the prophets. These selections foretell the the restoration of the Jewish people to their land (the ingathering of the exiles), the future redemption of Israel, and the coming of the Messianic Era. May Yeshua return soon, chaverim!

Note:  Parashat Vaetchanan is always read on the Sabbath following Tishah B'Av.

The Romantic Holiday of Tu B'Av

Tu B'Av (ט"ו באב, the "fifteenth [day] of [the month of] Av") is an annual holiday of love and affection (sometimes called chag ha-ahavah: חַג הָאַהֲבָה) that is celebrated as a sort of "Valentine's Day" in modern Israel (though it is a much older holiday that St. Valentine's Day).

Read Summary

The first mention of Tu B'Av is found in the Mishnah, where Shimon ben Gamliel is quoted as saying, "There were no better (i.e. happier) days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Israel go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying: Young man, consider whom you choose to be your wife... (Taanit, Chapter 4).

Since it is the "last" festival of the Jewish year, prophetically Tu B'Av pictures our marriage to the Lamb of God (Seh Elohim), the LORD Yeshua our beloved Messiah. On a soon-coming day those who belong to the LORD and are faithful to follow His ways will be blessed with the unspeakable joy of consummating their relationship with Him. This is heaven itself - to be in the Presence of the LORD and to be His beloved (Rev. 19:6-9).

Tu B'Av begins Thursday July 30th after sundown and runs through the following day.

The Last Ten Sabbaths of the Year....

The weekly haftarah portion (i.e., reading from the Prophets) is usually thematically connected with the weekly Torah portion; however, beginning with the 17th of Tammuz until the end of the Jewish year, the connection changes. First we always read three prophetic portions of rebuke leading up to the fast day of Tishah B'Av.


Three Weeks of Sorrow:

  1. Divrei Yirmiyahu ("The words of Jeremiah...") - Jer. 1:12:3
  2. Shim'u Devar Adonai ("Hear the word of the LORD") - Jer. 2:428; 4:12
  3. Chazon Yeshayahu ("The vision of Isaiah...") - Isa. 1:127
     

Three Weeks of SorrowThree Weeks of Sorrow

 

After the fast of Tishah B'Av, however, and for the next seven weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah (i.e., the new year), we read selections of comfort that foretell of the future redemption of the Jewish people and the coming Messianic Era.


Seven Weeks of Comfort: 

  1. Nachamu, Nachamu Ammi ("Comfort, comfort, my people") - Isa. 40:1-26
  2. Va'tomer Tziyon ("But Zion said...") - Isa. 49:14-51:3
  3. Aniyah So'arah ("O afflicted and storm-tossed") - Isa. 54:1155:5
  4. Anochi, Anochi hu ("I, even I am He...") - Isa. 51:1252:12
  5. Rani Akarah ("Sing, O Barren one...") - Isa. 54:110
  6. Kumi Ori ("Arise and shine..." - Isa. 60:122
  7. Sos Asis ("I will greatly rejoice...") - Isa. 61:1063:9 

Blessing before Torah Study:

Click for the blessing

Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
     
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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