DEVARIM - CHAZON - THE INSPIRATION
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs
Shalom and Bracha!
This Friday is the fifth of Av, the Yahrtzeit of the great Kabbalist the Ari Zal. It is a very auspicious day to seek Hashem’s mercy through prayer, Teshuvah, and charity and visiting his graveside and the gravesides of Tzaddikim. Please pray very intently for the safety and security for the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world and for the coming of Moshiach. This Shabbat we read the portion of Devarim. It is also known as Shabbat Chazon, because the Haftara begins with the word Chazon (vision). This Monday night and Tuesday is the fast of Tisha B’av, when we commemorate the destruction of both the first and the second temples.
During the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’av, progressively increasing customs of mourning are observed. Weddings are not held, hair is not cut, and in the nine days preceding the destruction meat and wine are not consumed (amongst other restrictions). The exception to the rule is Shabbat. There are many explanations why. The simplest is that Shabbat is so important (it’s one of the Ten Commandments) that it outweighs the mourning for the Temple.
A deeper approach is offered in the teachings of Chassidut. The Prophet Zechariah teaches that the ninth of Av, together with the other fasts that are connected to the destruction of the Temple, will be transformed to rejoicing and great holidays. Seemingly, these fasts should be canceled in the future, not changed to celebration. Zechariah is teaching us that when Moshiach comes, we will realize that every step in the exile was a necessary preparation the redemption, much like the Egyptian exile was a necessary step in order to receive the Torah and the Land of Israel. Until Moshiach comes, we feel the destruction and therefore we fast and mourn. When we will receive the third Temple, we will see the ninth of Av as being a happy day, the beginning of a new and higher connection with Hashem.
The day of Shabbat is a taste of the times of Moshiach. The soul is on a higher plane and perceives the deeper meaning of this period. Therefore, just as when Moshiach will come these three weeks will be a time of rejoicing, we rejoice now on Shabbat during the three weeks. This Shabbat, Shabbat Chazon, gives us an additional reason to rejoice. The word Chazon means vision. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught that on Shabbat Chazon every soul sees the third Temple. He explained by a parable: Once a king made a beautiful garment for his son. The prince was not careful, and ruined it. The king waited and made a second garment, which the prince watched more carefully, but ruined the second one as well. The king made an immeasurably superior garment, but in order to assure that the prince deserved it and would treat it properly, he only showed it to him on special occasions. Each time that he saw it, his desire and appreciation grew stronger. When he finally received it, he deserved it and treated it properly. The first Temple was a magnificent edifice, both physically and spiritually.
Through our sins, it was destroyed. The second Temple was a greater edifice and lasted longer, but was also destroyed through strife. The third Temple is waiting in Heaven, and every year on Shabbat Chazon we view it. This gives us the thirst and desire for the redemption. Although our eyes don’t see it, our souls feel it and this is a cause of rejoicing. By studying the laws of the construction of the Temple, we actualize this experience.
We have been assured that the coming of Moshiach is very near, and that any positive act may tip the scales. The Haftarah concludes that Zion will be redeemed through Torah study and the captives through acts of charity. Let us each increase in study of Torah and giving of Charity and G-d willing this Shabbat we will not only see a vision of the Temple but the Temple itself.
The fast begins Monday night 8:09 p.m NYC time
The fast ends Tuesday 8:37 New York City time
Eating, drinking, washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations are forbidden on Tisha B’av. We sit on a low seat until 1:00 p.m. Tuesday. Tallit and Tefillin are worn for afternoon services instead of the morning.
Shalom and Bracha!
This Monday night (August 8th) and Tuesday is Tisha B’av, which is the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. We commemorate the destruction of both the First and second Temples, as well as numerous other tragedies that befell our people on this day.
The first tragedy that occurred on the ninth of Av was when the Jewish people were in the desert. Hashem had commanded the Jewish people to advance towards Israel and Moshe sent spies to find the best way to go. The spies returned with a bleak report and said that Israel was unconquerable and that we would fail. The Jewish people cried that night and sought to return to Egypt. Hashem decreed that they should remain in the desert for forty years and decreed that the ninth of Av would be a day of sadness.
As we ponder the tragedies of the ninth of Av, we must seek to fix the cause, thereby fixing the result. Within the rules of nature, the spies were correct. Israel was an unconquerable land. However, their faith in G-d should have been so strong that realizing that going to Israel was the Divine plan; surely He would provide the strength.
We are often faced with challenges pitting our following of the Torah against our success in society. If we truly want to fix the error of the spies, we must do that which we know is right, overcoming all obstacles and fully trusting in Hashem in every aspect of our lives.
The destruction of the second Temple, which began the current exile, was because of wanton hatred. In order to atone therefore, we must seek to do acts of kindness and overcome our negative feelings. We must change our approach towards charity and helping others. Rather than seeing acts of kindness as a burden, we must see them as a privilege to be sought.
Interestingly, on Tisha B’av Tachanun (confessional prayers which are skipped on festive days) is not said. One of the reasons is that Tisha B’av is the birthday of Moshiach. This is also a reason why we put on the Tallit and Tefillin for afternoon services and not in the morning. In the morning, when we say Kinnot, we focus on the destruction and don’t wear our garments of glory. In the afternoon, when we say Nachem, the prayer of consoling and rebuilding, we begin to focus on the birth of Moshiach, and thus we wear our clothes of glory. After evening services and tasting something we recite the blessing for the New Moon, which represents the rebirth of the Jewish people. This is an ideal time to pray and give extra charity for our soldiers and brothers in Israel and throughout the world.
May we merit that this Tisha B’av we will see the coming of Moshiach and the days of sadness will be overturned to days of joy.
In memory of all of the fallen soldiers and innocent victims and in merit of all of the injured and the protection of the entire Jewish people
To learn more about the 9th of Av and the three weeks and to view the third Temple, please go to my website
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