Photo: Howie Mischel
Thoughts for Shabbat Chazon
BY SIVAN RAHAV-MEIR
The Shabbat before Tisha B’Av is called Shabbat Chazon, the “Shabbat of Vision”. In the Torah we read Parashat Devarim, and the haftarah begins with the words חֲזוֹן יְשַׁעְיָהוּ, “the vision of Yishayahu”.
Perhaps we need to shake the dust off of this word חֲזוֹן, “vision”. We don’t speak of it much on a daily basis as we go about our lives. Tisha B’Av is an annual reminder of our great national story, a story that is far greater than each of our individual stories. Over the last two years, it seems that the people who dwell in Zion have one great desire – 61. That someone will be able to get 61 seats in the Knesset! But our people did not return to Eretz Yisrael merely to form a government of 61 seats. We came back to our land after two thousand years of exile to be a blessing to this region and a blessing to the entire world.
Words like “redemption” or “holiness” never frightened our ancestors, neither in exile nor at the beginning of the Zionist movement. Today our lexicon is much more modest. We frequently talk about “rights” but not about our obligations, about global values but not traditional Jewish national values, and our grand hope is simply to create a system in which all of the tribes of Israel will somehow get along with each other – without a shared vision.
Our commentators explain that Shabbat Chazon is the Shabbat on which each one of us must expand our vision and imagine the maximum – the redemption of our nation and the personal redemption of each and every one of us. This is the time to pay attention to what is missing in the world, to absence, to space, to trouble, to distress – and to pray for the good. After two years of Covid-19, after the disasters of Meron and Surfside, after so many painful terrorist attacks, it is not difficult to connect to grief and demand a corrected world.
Rav Kook once wrote: “We have begun to speak of great things, among ourselves and in the ears of the entire world, and we have not yet finished. We are still in the middle of our speech.” Tisha B’Av is not just a day to mourn what we have lost, but a day of remembering what is expected of us.
Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Yedidya, and their five children, and serves as World Mizrachi’s Scholar-in-Residence. She is a primetime anchor on Channel 2 News, has a column in Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Acharonot, and has a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).