D’var Torah: Love and Comfort
“I think if you care about someone and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothin’ you can’t get through together.”
These are the words of Coach Ted Lasso to Rebecca, the team’s owner, in a key moment of forgiveness between them. Rebecca has gone through a painful divorce and instead of feeling supported by friends and given comfort, she feels alone. She is angry and lashes out.
This week is called Shabbat Nachamu because, as we learn from Parshat Vaetchanan, God comes to give comfort to the people of Israel, who are feeling alone and abandoned after Tisha B’Av and the onset of exile. This is known as Shabbat Nachamu because of this famous line from the haftorah that is read this week:
נַחֲמ֥וּ נַחֲמ֖וּ עַמִּ֑י יֹאמַ֖ר אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם
Nachamu, Nachamu – comfort, oh comfort, My people, says your God.
Such a short line packed with so much meaning: the word nachamu (comfort) is doubled, God calls Israel “My people” after they are exiled, and the “your God” language reassures us that God is with us.
I think we can relate. We have gone through a horrible pandemic and been isolated; we haven’t felt the love of God or had the comfort of friends for a long time. We have felt alone.
This summer, camp feels like the living embodiment of “Nachamu, Nachamu.” Here we are, one community reassembled together after a year of exile. We take incredible comfort from just being together, of sitting in the Horsha (grove) on a Friday night, eating Shabbat brownies, and singing our wonderful Shabbat songs.
I think that perhaps the most important thing camp has been able to give us is the ability to see possibilities again:
The possibility that we can laugh again.
The possibility that we can sing and dance again.
The possibility of friendship.
The possibility of feeling love for each other.
Love can be romantic, love can be nurturing, and love can be devotional.
In this week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan, we read again the first paragraph of the Shema, known as V’ahavta. It commands, “And you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.”
Sometimes finding the feeling of love can be hard. We have to marshal all of ourselves to have our love break through. Heart, soul and might. It takes work. Sometimes it feels easier to sink into other emotions, like bitterness, anger and hate. Sometimes it is easier to want to be alone with our pain or to be unwilling to reach out to someone else in pain.
So, when you see someone in pain or hurting, think about the words of our haftorah and find the ability to give comfort.
As Ted Lasso says after a particularly bad loss, “I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad. And that is being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.”
I think this is the power of camp. Ain’t no one should be alone at this camp. The good times are better when sharing them with people you care about and the hard times are more bearable when you can go through them together.
So let’s find a little love in our hearts and care for each other, and then we can discover the tremendous possibilities that surround us. Shabbat Shalom.