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    The Shabbat after Tisha B’Ab is
    known as “Shabbat Nahamu,”
    the “Shabbat of
    consolation.” This
    name is based on
    the famous prophecy which we read as the Haftara on this
    Shabbat, which begins with the words,
    “Nahamu Nahamu Ami” – “Console, console My nation.”
    But why should we be consoled? What
    reason is there for comfort? The calamity
    which we mourned on Tisha B’Ab has yet
    to be resolved. We are still in exile, and the
    Bet Ha’mikdash has not yet been rebuilt.
    Why are we to feel consolation, just because Tisha B’Ab is over?
    One answer to this question comes from
    the beginning of the Parasha which our
    Sages specifically instituted to be read on
    the Shabbat after Tisha B’Ab – Parashat
    This Parasha begins with Moshe’s pleas to
    G-d that he be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael. The Sages teach that Moshe recited
    515 prayers, at which point G-d told him
    to stop praying. It seems that G-d wanted
    Moshe to recite this specific number of
    prayers. Why?
    One of the tragedies that befell our nation
    as a result of the Temple’s destruction is
    described in the third chapter of Megilat
    Echa: “Sakota Be’anan Lach Me’abor Tefila” – “You covered Yourself with a cloud,
    so that prayer cannot pass.” At the time of
    the destruction, G-d made an invisible
    “cloud” which blocked the heavens from
    receiving our prayers.
    This was, indeed, a terrible tragedy. Prayer
    is not just a means of attaining that which
    we need and want. This is far from being
    the primary purpose of prayer. The primary purpose of prayer is to connect us to the
    Almighty. The Tefillin that we wear is so
    named because it is tied and bound to our
    bodies. The word “Tefila” means “bind.”
    When we pray, we connect to Hashem. We
    build a relationship with Him. At the time
    of the destruction, G-d decided He no longer wanted a relationship with us, and so
    He broke this connection by blocking our
    prayers. This marked one of the gravest
    tragedies of the destruction.
    A number of books teach that Moshe Rabbenu prophetically foresaw this calamity,
    and he acted to help us, to restore for us this
    ability to connect to G-d through prayer.
    The Gematria (numerical value) of the
    word “Tefila” is 515. Moshe prayed 515
    prayers for our sake, to reaffirm the power
    of Tefila when it would be taken from us.
    It is in his merit, because of his prayers,
    that we were given anew the opportunity
    of Tefila which had been taken away at the
    time of the destruction. Thanks to Moshe’s
    prayers, we are able to maintain our connection to G-d even in the darkest of times.
    The prayers at the beginning of Parashat
    Vaet’hanan are the greatest possible source
    of consolation for us – because they have
    assured our continued ability to build a relationship with Hashem, under any and all
    Remarkably, this concept relates to the festive day of Tu B’Ab, the 15th of Ab, which
    falls less than a week after Tisha B’Ab.
    One of the events celebrated on this day,
    as the Gemara explains, is “Kalu Meteh
    Midbar” – the demise of the generation of
    the wilderness was completed. After the
    sin of the spies, G-d decreed that the entire
    generation would perish over the course of
    the next 39 years, and only their children
    would enter the Land of Israel. It was on
    the 15th of Ab, 39 years later, that Beneh
    Yisrael realized that the decree had already
    been carried out in full, and now everybody who was alive would be proceeding
    into Eretz Yisrael. This was a joyous day,
    when the people saw that the punishment
    had been completed, and this is one of the
    reasons why we celebrate Tu B’Ab.
    The Peneh Yehoshua (Rav Yaakob Yehoshua Falk, 1680-1756) writes that it
    was on that same day that Moshe Rabbenu
    recited his 515 prayers. Upon seeing that
    G-d had completed punishing the people
    for the sin of the spies, and everyone who
    remained would be entering the Land of
    Israel, Moshe saw an opportunity to beg
    for the privilege of entering the land. G-d
    denied his request, but, as we have seen,
    these prayers were inestimably valuable, having the effect of restoring for us
    the ability to connect to Hashem through
    Tu B’Ab is thus an exceedingly significant
    day – celebrating the restoration of Tefila,
    the elimination of the “cloud” which had
    blocked our access to G-d in the wake of
    the Temple’s destruction, so that we can
    once again, even in our state of exile, build
    and maintain a beautiful and meaningful
    relationship with Hashem.
    May we all seize the precious opportunity
    we have to connect with Hashem each
    day through prayer, and may we succeed in building a close relationship with
    our Creator and in bringing His presence
    back to Yerushalayim, in the rebuilt Bet
    Ha’mikdash, speedily and in our times,