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Thursday, 8 August, 2019 - 4:48 pm

This Saturday night and Sunday is the fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av.  It is actually the tenth of the month, but since we do not fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur), the fast is postponed for a day.  Nevertheless, it is still customary to call the day Tisha B’Av, since that is the original day of the fast.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, there were many sad events that happened on this day, the most central, and the main focus of the day, being the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem. 

On this day we fast, from sunset on the eve of Tisha B’Av until nightfall the next day.  How do we deal observe this  Shabbat?  It is the ninth day of Av, the day of the destruction, but it is Shabbat, a day of joy.  Our sages have taught that not only should we not mourn on this day, but in order to show that we are not mourning on observance of the Shabbat we should increase our observances.  While during the nine-day mourning period we don’t drink wine or eat meat, on this Shabbat day we make sure to do so (if we are meat eaters).  We wear festive Shabbat clothes, and do not change our shoes to non-leather as we would do on a regular Tisha B’av.

This concept of celebrating this Shabbat is consistent with a teaching of the holy sage and Chassidic Master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Bardichev regarding the name of this Shabbat, Shabbat Chazzon  The simple understanding of why it is called Shabbat Chazzon is that Chazzon, meaning vision, is the first word of the Haftorah (reading form the Prophets) for this Shabbat.  The Haftorah relates the prophet Isaiah’s “vision” and warning to the Jews of the impending destruction of the Holy Temple.  Rabbi Levi Yitzchak says that there is a deeper and currently relevant meaning to “Shabbat Chazzon” - every soul has a vision of the future Third Temple, which our sages have taught it “built and decorated” in the spiritual worlds and ready to come down physically to earth when the time comes.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak gave an analogy.  A monarch had a beautiful, exclusive and expensive jacket made for his young son.  The son did not know how to appreciate its value and did not take proper care of it, and the jacket was ruined.  So the monarch had another jacket made, and his son destroyed this one too.  So the monarch had a third jacket made, but this time he did not give it to his son.  He showed it to him and told him that when he learns how to properly appreciate the jacket, he will give it to him.  Every once in a while the monarch would show his son the precious jacket in order to motivate him to improve his behavior and be worthy of wearing the jacket.

This, says Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, is the meaning of the vision of Shabbat ChazonHashem built us two Holy Temples and through our sins we were not worthy of them and they were destroyed.  He has built the Third Temple, and every year on this Shabbat before Tisha B’av Hashem shows us the Temple, to motivate us to do the final work to bring the world for redemption.  So how does that relate to us, simple people who don’t physically see the Temple?  Certainly our souls see this vision, and the feeling filters down in some way to our subconscious mind, but how do we relate to it in a concrete way?

People generally think that our present is based on our past.  I can write a lot on this subject, but let me just assert that this is not so.  Our present is actually based on our future.  I would almost guarantee that if you knew with absolute certainty that next week you will win $1M in the lottery, you would not behave today as you are now.  You know you won’t win it, and therefore you are behaving as if you will not win it.  This is true of life in general.  The problem is that we ascribe our past to our future.  We get stuck in a rut of the past, and we assume that our future will be the same, so we keep on doing what we have always done.  If, however, we can create a completely new future in our minds, and by our words, then we can break out of our rut and make that future happen.  This is what vision means, the ability to envision a new future that is completely new.  This is how leaders create completely transform themselves, their companies, and perhaps the world.

I think that this is the purpose of our soul’s vision of the third Holy Temple.  If we can tap into that vision, realizing that on this Shabbat we are given special spiritual support to “see” the Temple and the glorious revelation that it represents, we can pull ourselves out of exile and be truly motivated to do our part to make the world a better place.  It could be the one Mitzvah that we do today that tips the balance of the world to righteousness and redemption.  This is something to celebrate!

You are welcome to join us at Chabad for a festive lunch at 12:15 on Shabbat, and for Tisha B’av services, details here.  May we merit the coming of Moshiach immediately, and Tisha B’Av will be a great holiday, celebrated in the third Holy Temple. 

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