The wheel of life continues to turn. This cycle of moving from darkness to light is expressed on this Shabbat, the Shabbat after the fast of the Ninth of Av, the fast which commemorates the tragedy of the destruction of both the first and second Temple in Jerusalem.
The centerpiece of this week's reading, Va'etchanan, is the Ten Commandments. And the haftorah, from Isiah, is about comfort. "Nachamu, Nachamu Ami.....Comfort, My people, comfort them…" says G‑d to the prophets.
After destruction comes rebirth and rebuilding. After the destruction of the First Temple, came the building of the Second. After the destruction of the second Temple will come the advent of Moshiach and the building of the Third Temple. The sense of comfort after the darkness of destruction is so strong that in fact this is only the first of a series of seven haftorot, all with the theme of the promise of Redemption.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that this idea can help us even if we are still at the stage of darkness. The darkness and desolation are not a cause for despair: on the contrary, they point to the greater joy which will follow. Recognizing this enables us to find joy at the darkest moment. This teaching applies to us as individual men and women, and also to the Jewish people as a whole.
The cycle of comfort is also seen in the Torah reading. Moses describes to the Jewish people how, forty years previously, they heard the Ten Commandments from G‑d. The reading does not mention it, but they knew and we know that following the Ten Commandments they made the Golden Calf, and other mistakes, resulting in them wandering in the desert for forty years. Yet now they are about to enter the Promised Land. Moses reminds them about hearing the Ten Commandments from G‑d, and they are now able to hear them with a renewed sense of innocence.
Candle lighting time for L.A. is 7:37