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Excerpted with permission from
Celebrate! The Complete Jewish Holiday Handbook
(Jason Aronson Inc.).
The Sabbaths surrounding the Ninth of Av carry a clear message relating to the holiday. The prophetic readings for the three weeks preceding the holiday–the first two from Jeremiah and the third from Isaiah– are full of admonitions in preparation for this mournful time. Following Tisha B’Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation–all from Isaiah–providing comfort after this somber occasion and preparing the individual emotionally and spiritually for the upcoming High holidays. The Sabbaths that immediately precede and follow Tisha B’Av each have a special name reflecting the message of the respective haftarah (prophetic reading).
The Sabbath immediately preceding the ninth of Av is known as the Sabbath of Vision (Hazon) for the prophetic reading Isaiah 1:1-27. After recounting heinous transgressions, it offers the hope of reconciliation, which will come when the people “cease to do evil, learn to do good.” The Sabbath of Vision and Shabbat Nahamu, which provides words of consolation a week later, embrace Tisha B’Av from opposite sides, cushioning the blow of the day of destruction, allowing the mourners to go into it knowing there is salvation and emerge from it reassured that redemption will come. The entire portion [of Shabbat Hazon] may be chanted to the melody of Eicha (Lamentations); more appropriately, only the verses of admonition are rendered in the subdued chant.
The upswing of hope begun on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av continues on the following Shabbat. Called Shabbat Nahamu (Console) after the first line of the day’s prophetic reading (Nachamu, nachamu ami, Console, console my people…”) (Isaiah 40:1-26), it is also the first of seven haftarot of consolation, all drawn from the book of Isaiah, that deliver a message of comfort in the seven weeks following Tisha B’Av and lead us to the period of Rosh Hashanah (49:14-51:3; 4:11-55:5; 1:12-52:12; 4:1-10; 60:1-22; 61:10-63:9).
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