Friday, August 12, 2011

Nachamu Nachamu

There could hardly have been a more deliciously apropos moment for the advent of a brand-new granddaughter than Erev Shabbat Nachamu - the eve of the Sabbath of double-dip consolation.  Relief, and rectification: corporeal comfort, here among us in flesh and blood, yet resonating with the transcendent source of solace in the realm of ascendant souls.  One is tempted to say "v'dai l'mayvin" – let that suffice for those who know the back-story.  But the inner story of this double nechamah is just too rich to let slip without an attempt to bring its esoteric underpinnings down to earth.

Briefly (there's soup on the stove that needs stirring,) the double expression "nachamu nachamu" signifies a final, complete redemption that, unlike all prior reprieves, will never fade or fail or revert to chaos.  How could that be possible, in an imperfect world where the only certainty is uncertainty, where pleasure inevitably gives way to pain, where the only apparent constant is change?

It's been said that had Moses led us into the Promised Land instead of Joshua, his right-hand man, there'd have been no subsequent exile. Moses was in touch with the immutability of G-d's grace.  He was unshakeable, invincible; he could weather the vicissitudes like a flame in a windless place.  But people tend to get the leaders they deserve. We did not merit to be led by a Moses to the civilized side of the river.  Joshua brought us home, but eventually we blew it - and the winds of change blew us away.

Thirty some-odd centuries down the pike, we may have learned a thing or two.  The Chassidic masters, our latter-day Moseses, have shown us how the miraculous and the mundane are one – how we can live within the confines of time, where we need to be on time, yet taste changeless eternity. We can be consoled in this world, and partake of a headspace where there's no consolation required.

That's the way it felt at 3:15 this morning when we stood in the hallway of Mount Sinai (the hospital, not the holy mountain - though they're not all that dissimilar) and heard that first cry of our new-born daughter and granddaughter. My son-in-law and I, after being allowed back in the delivery room and taking the requisite photos and video clips, stepped outside into the night to bless the moon.  It's a monthly ritual, performed while the moon is waxing full, that imbues the cyclical fickleness of the lesser luminary with something of the non-stop steadiness of the sun.

The moon and the sun are sharing their double dose of consolation and redoubling it in us.  I'm inclined to say that it doesn't get any better than this, except that I'm quite confident it will.

Mazal tov, mazal tov, and Shabbat Shalom.