This Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Chazon" after the first word
of the haftarah, which begins "Chazon Yishayahu" / "The vision of
Yishayahu (Isaiah)." At first glance, this way of referring to
the Shabbat before Tishah B'Av is similar to the way that next
Shabbat is known as "Shabbat Nachamu," after the first word of
that week's haftarah.
However, R' Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin z"l (1823-1900) points out
that they may not be the same. When we call the Shabbat after
Tishah B'Av "Shabbat Nachamu," we are not only identifying the
haftarah, but also its theme, "Nechamah" / "consolation." This
is certainly an appropriate theme to have on our minds during the
period after the Fast. The name "Chazon," on the other hand,
appears to be nothing more than the first word of the haftarah,
informing us that the words that follow are the vision of the
prophet Yishayahu. The theme of the haftarah, however, is not
"visions," but rather the destruction of Yerushalayim, which the
prophet says will result from the people's sins.
In fact, however, says R' Tzadok, the name "Shabbat Chazon"
does describe one aspect of the Shabbat before Tishah B'Av.
Surprisingly, that aspect is one of consolation, not of mourning.
He explains as follows:
One of our greatest losses as a result of the destruction of
the Bet Hamikdash was the end of the period of prophecy. This is
described in the Book of Eichah (which is read on Tishah B'Av) in
the verse (2:9), "Prophets could find no vision ("chazon") from
G-d." However, we are promised that in the days of Mashiach
(Yoel 3:1), "I will pour My spirit on every person, and your sons
and daughters will prophesy, your elderly will dream dreams, your
teenagers will see visions." This promise is the beginning of
The gemara says that when the gentiles who destroyed the Bet
Hamikdash entered the Holy-of-Holies, they found the keruvim
hugging each other. How can this be? asks R' Yom Tov ben
Avraham Alsevilli ("Ritva"; 14th century). Are we not taught
that when the Jews did the will of G-d, the keruvim faced each
other, but when G-d was displeased with His people, the keruvim
miraculously turned their backs on each other? How could the
keruvim be facing each other at the very moment when the Bet
Hamikdash was burning to the ground?!
The answer, explains R' Tzadok, is found in the midrash which
states that Mashiach was born on the day on which the Temple was
destroyed. For centuries, the prophets warned Bnei Yisrael that
their sins would cause the Temple's destruction, but the people
did not listen. When the Temple began to burn, however, the
prophets' message hit home, and Bnei Yisrael did begin to repent.
It was too late to save the Bet Hamikdash -- the decree had been
signed and executed -- but at that moment the seeds of rebuilding
were planted and Mashiach was born. To show Hashem's acceptance
of these faint stirrings of repentance, the keruvim turned toward
each other as in earlier times of favor.
In fact, continues R' Tzadok, on every Tishah B'Av a person is
born who can be Mashiach if his generation so merits. In this
sense, every Tishah B'Av is a day of consolation, and it is this
small consolation that we observe on the Shabbat preceding Tishah
B'Av, as well.
Why? Because Chazal teach that all the blessings of the coming
week derive from our observance of Shabbat. This is why, for
example, we bless the new moon on the Shabbat preceding Rosh
Chodesh ("Shabbat Mevarchim"), for the blessings of the coming
month derive from the blessings of the Shabbat which precedes it.
If Mashiach is to be born on Tishah B'Av of any given year, that
blessing will come from the preceding Shabbat, and it is
therefore fitting that the name which we give that Shabbat
alludes to one aspect of that consolation, the return of chazon /
visions. (Pri Tzaddik, Devarim section 13)
"Also these are for the wise; showing favoritism in
judgement is not good." (Mishlei/Proverbs 24:23)
Rabbenu Yonah z"l (13th century; Spain) introduces our parashah
with the above verse from Mishlei. He explains that at first
glance, much of Sefer Devarim appears repetitive, but this is for
a reason. Although Moshe had rebuked Bnei Yisrael throughout the
40 years that he lead them, they were eager to hear more reproof
in order to constantly improve themselves. As King Shlomo wrote
elsewhere (Mishlei 9:8), "Rebuke a wise man, and he will love
"Showing favoritism in judgement is not good." Many people use
their last days, a time of judgment, to appease their opponents.
Moshe, however, did not do so; until the very end he fulfilled
his obligation as a leader to rebuke his people for their
(Drushei Rabbenu Yonah Al Ha'Torah)
How can Mishlei say, "Showing favoritism in judgement is not
good," implying that it is not recommended, but is permissible?
As quoted above, our parashah states explicitly that showing
favoritism in judgment is prohibited.
R' Baruch Halevi Epstein z"l (Russia; died 1940) suggests that
Shlomo Hamelech is not referring to showing favoritism. Rather,
the verse from Mishlei should be translated literally,
"Recognizing faces in judgement is not good." What does this
mean? Rambam writes that judges are permitted to take into
account the facial expressions and other demeanor of the parties
in judging their truthfulness. While this is permitted, says
Mishlei, it is unreliable and "not good."
"With me, as well, Hashem became angry because of you,
saying: 'You, too, shall not come there'." (1:37)
Following, as it does, a verse that says that Kalev behaved
differently than the other spies, this verse suggests that Moshe
did not enter Eretz Yisrael because of the sin of the spies. How
R' Chaim ben Attar z"l (the "Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh"; died 1743)
explains: Chazal say that the night when the Jewish people cried
over the spies' report was Tishah B'Av. Hashem said, "You cried
tonight for no reason! I will give you a reason to cry on this
night in the future." This is why the Bet Hamikdash was
destroyed on the Ninth of Av.
The Sages also teach that if Moshe had entered Eretz Yisrael,
he would have built the Bet Hamikdash, and it would have stood
forever. It follows, then, that Hashem's promise that He would
give the Jewish people a reason to cry on Tishah B'Av, the result
of the sin of the spies, prevented Moshe from entering the land.
Moshe was punished so severely because he could have sanctified
G-d's Name just a little more by talking to the rock and drawing
out water than by hitting the rock to accomplish the same result.
Says R' Reuven Dessler z"l (father of the author of Michtav
M'Eliyahu): The difference between the sanctification of G-d's
Name which occurred and that which might have occurred is so
subtle that it is imperceptible to us. Yet we all have
opportunities to commit the same sin. If a person has a certain
talent or has the ability to study Torah, and he does not use
that gift to the fullest, he is lessening the potential for G-d's
Name to be sanctified. We see from Moshe's case that a person is
punished not only for his sins, but also for his unfinished or un-
(Kitvei Ha'Saba Mi'Kelm Ve'talmidav p.554)
The gemara teaches that one is obligated to bless Hashem for
the bad just as he does for the good. If so, asks R' Joseph B.
Soloveitchik z"l, what right do we have to mourn on Tishah B'Av?
What right do we have to recite kinot with its repeated question,
"Eichah?" / "Why?" "How?"
The answer, says R' Soloveitchik, is that we have permission to
ask these questions because Hashem Himself instructed the prophet
Yirmiyah to ask them. Where did Yirmiyah ask these questions?
In the book of Eichah. This is why we preface our own recitation
of Kinot by reading Eichah, as if to say, "We would never
complain on our own, but we are only following in the footsteps
of the prophet."
After we read the other megillot (Shir Hashirim, Ruth, and
Kohelet) we recite kaddish, but there is no kaddish after Eichah.
This is because Eichah and the kinot are one unit, for the reason
Why then don't we recite Eichah in the morning? R'
Soloveitchik explains that the morning's haftarah takes the place
of Eichah. A review of the haftarah, which was also written by
the prophet Yirmiyah, reveals that it too is full of questions,
and it is the fact that the prophet asked these questions which
allows us to ask our own questions.
R' Soloveitchik observes further: Virtually every haftarah ends
with words of consolation, but the haftarah for Tishah B'Av
morning does not. Why? Because if it did, we would not be able
to say kinot afterward. It is only because we are riding on the
coat-tails of Yirmiyah, so-to-speak, that we are able to say
There is another reason why we cannot conclude this haftarah
with consolation. The Sages say, "Do not console a mourner when
his dead still lies before him." On Tishah B'Av morning, our
sorrow is (hopefully) so intense that it is as if the Temple is
in flames before our eyes and all the victims of all the pogroms
in Jewish history lie before us. Under such circumstances, there
can be no consolation.
(From a taped shiur delivered in Boston
on Tishah B'Av 5739 / 1979)
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob S. Edeson
in honor of the birth of their grandson Dovid Levy
and the second birthday of their grandson Max Ezra