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Comfort, comfort, my people

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For 39 chapters, the prophet Isaiah rebukes the Jewish people. They have betrayed G-d and worshiped idols; they have become arrogant as well as sycophants to the nations. The prophet tells Hezekiah the king that his children will be transformed into eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylonia. The message is dark.

Then chapter 40 begins, “Comfort, comfort my people, will say your G-d,” Isaiah says. “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her, for she has become full [from] her host, for her iniquity has been appeased, for she has taken from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.”

This portion is read the Sabbath after the fast of the 9th of Av, which mourns the destruction of the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem. It breaks the three-week period of gloom to remind a people whose core has been shattered, uprooted from their G-d-given land. Isaiah’s consolation is that all will be forgiven if we return to our creator.

Rabbi David Kimche, known by his Hebrew acronym, Radak, lived nearly 900 years ago. Born in southern France, David lost his father early in life and was raised by his brother. It was at a time when Judaism was under massive attack from the Christians. The Crusaders marauded through France, Germany and Spain and killed hundreds of thousands of Jews. The survivors were targeted by the church, which demanded that the Jews admit that their religion was a sham, their Talmud an anti-Christian diatribe, their rabbis bogus. Throughout most of his 75 years, the Radak used his commentary to........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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