Menachem Av 4, 5773 · July 11, 2013
Devarim - Shabbos Chazon
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Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
The Torah portion of Devarim is invariably read on the Shabbos that precedes the Ninth of Av, the day that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Beis HaMikdash. This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Chazon , because the first word of its Haftorah is chazon, "vision" - the calamitous vision beheld by the prophet Yeshayahu.
Conversely, the illustrious Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains1 that this Shabbos is known as Shabbos Chazon because on this day "every Jew is granted a vision from afar of the future Beis HaMikdash."
How are we to reconcile these seemingly opposite interpretations of the "vision" of Shabbos Chazon ?
Let us first mention a more general question regarding the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash:
The law states2 that it is forbidden to demolish even a small section of the Beis HaMikdash if it is done in a destructive manner. And surely it is forbidden to destroy the entire Beis HaMikdash.3
Since G-d is bound, as it were, by the same commandments that He gave the Jewish people,4 how could He have permitted the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, especially as this was done at His behest?5
If the Jewish people were not worthy of the Beis HaMikdash, He could simply have concealed it, as He did the Mishkan.6
The only time that destruction of a part of the Beis HaMikdash, or even a synagogue, is permitted is when the purpose is to rectify the structure and rebuild it in the same place.7
We must perforce say that the reason for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was in order to replace it with an even more splendid edifice. Thus we find in the Midrash8 that the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash was conditional on G-d rebuilding it, so that the very act of destruction was in fact a part of the rebuilding process.9
This leads to a wondrous conclusion regarding the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash, and surely with regard to the second:
The construction of the third Beis HaMikdash is not something that will begin in the Time to Come. Rather, it began immediately upon the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash.
Herein lies the entire purpose of the Beis HaMikdash's destruction: G-d desired to "rectify" it. Rather than it being an edifice built by man, and as such unable to endure, He desired for it to be built by Himself, and thus able to endure forever.
The same is true with regard to exile in general and particularly this final exile. According to our senses, the Redemption begins a long time after the start of exile. In a deeper sense, however, it started with the beginning of exile.
For the entire purpose of exile is so that our service during that time10 may bring about the elevation that comes in the era of redemption. Therefore, the first moment of exile is an integral part of the subsequent redemption.11
In light of the above, the seeming contradiction in the two interpretations of Shabbos Chazon is resolved.
Within exile itself, even in the darkest moments (just prior to the Ninth of Av), one is able to perceive the future Beis HaMikdash. This enables a Jew to overcome the difficulties and darkness of exile, so that his divine service will be of the highest order. This in turn brings down the revelation of the Third Beis HaMikdash, so that the "vision" becomes incontrovertible - the actual speedy revelation of the Third Beis HaMikdash.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 11-17.
The "Vision Thing"
The opening passage of Devarim is invariably read on the Shabbos that precedes the Ninth of Av, the fast that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples. This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Chazon , because the first word of its Haftorah is chazon, ("vision").
The illustrious Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that on this Shabbos, "every Jew is granted a vision from afar of the future Holy Temple."12
The connection between the Torah portion of Devarim and Shabbos Chazon will be understood accordingly.
Devarim , the first portion of the fifth Book of the Torah, is known as Mishnah Torah - the "repetition of the Torah." Although all five Books make up the one Torah, there is a difference between Mishnah Torah and the first four Books.13
The difference lies in the fact that Mishnah Torah was said to the generation that entered the Holy Land. It was therefore necessary to caution about certain things.
The generation that was in the desert was known as a "generation of knowledge";14 its members were of similar stature to their leader Moshe, and thus capable of "seeing" G-dliness.
This was not the case with the generation that entered the Holy Land. It was a generation involved with the physical. Its members thus lacked the ability to "see" G-dliness, and were only able to perceive it in a manner of "hearing." Thus Moshe said to them: "And now Israel hear.."15
The difference between seeing and hearing is16 that when one sees something, there is no doubt; nothing can convince a person that things are different from what he saw.
When one only hears about something, however, although one may understand and fully agree, one may change one's mind if confronted by a question or argument. This indicates that the thing that was heard entered the person in only a limited fashion.
Thus, Mishnah Torah , which was given to people who could only "hear" about G-dliness, speaks of self-sacrifice and the like - matters that didn't have to be addressed to the previous generation.
Although this second generation was of a lower spiritual stature than the first, it nevertheless possessed a merit that the first generation lacked. Thus we find concerning the first generation: "For you have not arrived until now to the place of tranquillity, the place of inheritance,"17 which refers to Shiloh and Jerusalem.18
The reason why the inferior generation was able to attain something denied the more superior generation lies in the fact that the very descent into occupation with material matters enabled its members to fulfill the divine intent represented by the Tabernacle in Shiloh and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
The Shabbos of Devarim thus indicates a unification of two opposites: It is a state of great descent, but this descent leads to the ultimate ascent; this inferior generation was able to accomplish something that could not be achieved by the superior generation.
Shabbos Chazon also combines two opposite elements. On one hand, it is one of the "Nine Days," (and may even be - as it is this year - the Ninth of Av itself,) the day that commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple.
Yet at the same time, it is specifically through this descent that we merit the coming of Moshiach and the third Holy Temple. And that is why on this day all Jews receive a vision, albeit from afar, of the third and most magnificent Holy Temple of all, the one that will speedily be built through our Righteous Moshiach.
Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. II, pp. 357-358.
1. Quoted in Or HaTorah LeNach, Vol. II, p. 234.
2. Rambam Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:17. See also Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 6:7.
3. See Minyan HaMitzvos at the beginning of Yad HaChazakah , Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh 65.
4. Shmos Rabbah 30:9. See also Yerushalmi, Rosh HaShanah 1:3; Berachos 6a.
5. See Yirmeyahu 25:9ff. See also ibid., 7:14, 32:3.
6. Sotah 9a.
7. See Kesef Mishneh on Rambam Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:17. See also Ramah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim , conclusion of Section 152; Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, Orach Chayim 20:3.
8. Yalkut Shimoni Yirmeyahu, Remez 259.
9. See Mordechai, Megillah 4:862.
10. See Tanya, beginning of ch. 37.
11. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 72ff.
12. Quoted in Reshimos HaTzemach Tzedek LeEichah , fn. to p. 45.
13. See Megillah 31b; Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 17c, and places cited there.
14. .Pessikta, Parshas Parah 14:9; Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 37b.
15. .Devarim 4:1, cf. Likkutei Torah beginning of Vaes'chanan.
16. See VeKachah 5637, ch. 33, et al.
17. .Devarim 12:9.
18. .Megillah 10a; Zevachim 119a; Yerushalmi, Megillah conclusion of ch. 1. See also Zohar , Vol. II, p. 241a, 242a.