5 thoughts after Shabbat Chazon

Tisha B'Av is not only a day of mourning for what we lost, but rather a reminder of what to expect from ourselves.

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Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today was the last Shabbat before Tisha B'Av and is called Shabbat Hazon (Sabbath of Vision). We read the Torah portion of Devarim and the haftarah starting with the words "A vision of Yeshayahu."

1. Perhaps the word "vision" needs dusting off. In daily life, we do not give it much attention. Tisha B'Av is a reminder of our great story, a story much greater than ourselves. For the last two years, it has seemed that the nation dwelling in Zion had one aspiration -- 61. That someone would reach 61 mandates. But it was not to form a government of 61 that we returned to Zion, but rather to return to ourselves after 2,000 years of exile, to be a blessing to the Middle East and to the entire world.

2. Words like "redemption" and "holiness" never frightened our forefathers, not in the Diaspora and not at the beginnings of Zionism. Today our lexicon is much more modest. Many times we speak about rights and not about obligations, about universal values alone, but not national Jewish values. We want to create a reality in which all the tribes get along somehow, but without a common vision.

3. Our commentators explain that Shabbat Hazon is the Shabbat in which we must envision the maximum -- both general and personal redemption. This is the time to notice what is lacking in the world, the vacuum created by what is missing, the troubles, all the points of distress -- and to pray for the good to prevail. After a year of the pandemic, after the catastrophe in Meron and the disaster in Miami, the sorrow is palpable and we demand a better world.

4. Rav Kook wrote as follows: "We began to articulate something grand, among ourselves and to the entire world, but we have not yet finished. We have stopped in the middle of our speech." Tisha B'Av is not only a day of mourning for what we lost, but rather a reminder of what to expect from ourselves and how much we have to gain.

5. A first step might be to follow up on Shani Avigal's idea for encouraging love of one's neighbor, in memory of her daughter:

Shani Avigal, mother of six-year-old Ido Avigal from Sderot who was killed in the recent "Guardian of the Walls" conflict, is still healing from her painful loss. Yesterday she wrote me the following:

"I thought a lot about how to memorialize Ido, how he would want me to memorialize him. I thought about the value of friendship and that it was sometimes difficult for him to connect with others. Whether in kindergarten or on a playground, he would play alone and find it difficult to participate in group activities. I thought that if there had been a 'friendship bench' at his kindergarten, that could have been most helpful to him. The idea is this: If it is difficult for a child to connect, he can simply sit on the bench and others can approach him and ask him to join their game. If children argue amongst themselves, they can also resolve their argument on the bench.

The idea began with one bench at his kindergatrten and has now spread to schools and even public parks. A number of cities have already ordered these benches in preparation for the coming school year. The feedback I have been receiving is tremendous. The benches simply help children who are socially isolated or otherwise in distress. Every night before bed, Ido would share with us what happened to him that day and said that he always made sure to 'love thy neighbor as thyself.' Therefore, this is what is written on the bench."

As Tisha B'Av is here and we become aware of what is missing and what we need to change, I wrote Shani that perhaps a bench like this is needed for adults as well.

May we meet at the Temple in Jerusalem..



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