Looking for Comfort when our Dreams Don’t Come True
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
At the beginning of this week’s parashah, parashat Vaetchanan, Moses fervently prayed to God that he be granted the privilege of entering the Promised land:
“I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, “O Lord GOD, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal!
Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.” (D’varim 3: 23-25)
Moses prayed but his prayer was denied: “But the LORD was wrathful with me on your account and would not listen to me. The LORD said to me, “Enough! Never speak to Me of this matter again!” (Devarim 3:26).
Moses had the dream to enter the Promised Land but his dream didn’t come true. His petition was torn up in his face, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land of Israel.
The fact that was not permitted to him to achieve this dream, it must have caused him great pain, anger, and disappointment. It is not easy to give up on a dream so longed for. Moses must have been disconsolate when his prayer was rejected.
In this context, it is interesting to highlight that we always read Parashat Vaetchanan on the Shabbat called “Nachamu”, the shabbat after Tisha B’eav. Shabbat Nachamu (“Sabbath of comfort”) takes its name from the haftarah from the Book of Isaiah (40:1-26) that speaks of “comforting” the Jewish people for their suffering. This is the first of seven haftarot of consolation leading up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Our history is replete with prayers and dreams denied and rejected. However, the prophet Isaiah supports us with words of comfort and hope.
Moses’ prayer and dream were rejected but we may think that he could take comfort in other things that happened at that time.
Moses couldn’t enter the land of Israel but he was granted to see the land of Israel from a mountain through his own eyes.
Moses couldn’t enter the land of Israel but his successor, Joshua, would lead the people into the land and would help them settle there. A leader who is assured of a competent and successful successor has surely had his prayers answered.
Moses couldn’t enter the land of Israel but his children, the children of Israel, entered the land and were established there.
Moses couldn’t enter the land of Israel but he was buried in close proximity to the land.
Moses’ dream was denied but I’m sure he could take comfort in these important achievements, close to his great dream.
Sometimes life doesn’t allow us to fulfill certain dreams. However, there are always little things which we should recognize and appreciate, which give us comfort, hope, and a sense of gratification and satisfaction.
Maybe it is not a coincidence that in the same Shabbat we read about Moses’ dream, which didn’t come true; we read words for Nechama, words of comfort which caress our souls. I believe this is a great lesson for our lives!