Weekly Letter: The Meaning of Hamakom Yenachem….

On Shabbos nachamu we find comfort in the words of the prophets which we read this Shabbos during the Haftorah. In his letter, the Rebbe gives comforting words to the family mourning the loss of their father, in which he explains the traditional words of comfort we give to mourners : “the A-mighty comfort you in the midst of all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

By the Grace of G-d
11 Av, 5740
Brooklyn, N.Y.
To the Bereaved Family of the late
Professor
New York, N.Y.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of your father, may he rest in peace, and extend to you sincere sympathy and the tradition blessing of condolence –
Hamokom yenachem eschem b’soch sh’ar aveilei Tzion vYrushalayim
The Almighty comfort you in the midst of all mourners for Zion and Jerusalem.
Since everything is by Divine Providence, and he was laid to rest on the day of TIsha b’Av – the day our Jewish people mourn the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash in Jerusalem, there is a special significance in this coincidence, as emphasized also in the said time-honored expression of condolence. For, by associating the loss of an individual Jew with the loss of all our Jewish people, it pointedly reminds everyone of us of the Jewish concept of “an individual is a whole world,” and that all our people share in the loss of a single Jew, even as we share in our great national loss.
At the same time, there is true comfort in the said expression, in that just as surely as G-d will fulfill His promise to restore the Bet Hamikdash and Jerusalem, with the coming of Mashiach and the final redemption of our people, so certain it is that “the dwellers in dust will rise and sing G-d’s praises.”
There is yet a further connection with Tisha b’Av is that this day calls upon every Jew to help rectify the cause of the national calamity – by strengthening his or her personal commitment to the way of the Torah and mitzvos in the everyday life. Hence, every additional effort in this direction is doubly meritorious: it provides true gratification to the soul of the dear departed that is now in the World of Truth and, at the same time, hastens the coming of Moshiach and the Resurrection of the Dead that is to follow it.
To conclude with a personal note. I vividly recall my meeting and conversation with your father some years ago. I was deeply impressed by his profound commitment to the security and wholeness of our Land of Israel and by his deep sense of identity with our Jewish people. I am confident that you will surely cherish this sacred legacy.
May you truly find solace in all above, and may G-d grant that henceforth you should not know sorrow, but only goodness and benevolence be with you always.
With blessing,

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