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PARASHAT VAETCHANAN


Saturday evening, August 6 and Sunday, we observed the fast day of Tishah B'Av. May the sadness be transformed into gladness and may we all merit the immediate end of the exile with the arrival of Moshiach. All it takes is our renewed dedication to serving Hashem through Torah, Mitzvos and Chesed.


Parshat Vaetchanan is always read on the Shabbos following Tishah B'Av and its Haftorah contains words of consolation for our people. "Nachamu, Nachamu Ami..." begins the Haftorah in Isaiah 40:1 "Be comforted, be comforted my people..." says Hashem.Thus, this Shabbat is called "SHABBOS NACHAMU," the Shabbos of consolation.


When leaving a "Shiva" house (where mourning is observed for seven days), we always end our visit by saying "Hamakom Y'nachem Eschem..." - May Hashem comfort you. For, in truth, no one but Hashem can really comfort a person in times of deep sorrow.


As the Book of Devarim continues its review and expansion of previous teachings, we find the Ten Commandments repeated this week. Although the text seems identical to that of Sh'mos 20:2, a closer look reveals some startling differences, especially regarding the commandment of Shabbos.


Sh'mos 20:8 teaches, "Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos L'kadsho" - REMEMBER the Shabbos day to keep it Holy. This weeks reading Devarim 5:12 teaches, "Shamor Es Yom HaShabbos L'kadsho" - SAFEGUARD the Shabbos day to keep it Holy. Our sages comment that these two concepts - remembering and safeguarding must be blended to produce the true essence of this Mitzvah.


Remembering the Shabbos is incomplete without the rituals and activities that enrich the day: The Lighting of the Candles, Kiddush, Z'miros, and special meals with the family as one, are just a few of the things we do to safeguard the Shabbos.


However, going through the motions week after week without a renewed sense of excitement, without innovation and without remembering how special is the gift of Shabbos - safeguarding without remembrance - is also incomplete. We need both concepts to fulfill this Mitzvah.


Of course, you might ask an interesting question. Which word did Hashem actually say at Mount Sinai? When He gave us the TEN COMMANDMENTS, did Hashem use the word "Shamor" or "Zachor?"


We find a beautiful answer to this dilemma in the Friday evening prayer - L'cha Dodi. "Shamor V'Zachor B'dibur Echod." Safeguard and remember were uttered by Hashem simultaneously! How can two words be said at one time? "Hamakom Y'nachem" - if Hashem can comfort the inconsolable - then uttering "Shamor and Zachor" at once is certainly no problem for the creator of the universe!


Kol Tov! Our best to you...it's all good. Shabbat Shalom, CM


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The word "Hamakom," referring to Hashem, also means "The Place" in Hebrew. In that context, remembering "The Place" where departed souls go (Olam Habah) should comfort the mourner as well. How will Tishah B'Av change after Moshiach arrives?









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