This Shabbat, the one before Tisha b’Av, is also called Shabbat Hazon. Hazon means “vision” in Hebrew and it’s also the first word of Isaiah’s prophecy that we read in this week’s Haftarah.
Isaiah’s prophecy contains very harsh words of preaching and rebuking the people of Israel for their betrayal of Hashem, as well as bad behavior that led to the destruction of the Jewish people and their exile from the land Israel:
“Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel; they drew backwards”.
“Your princes are rebellious and companions of thieves; everyone loves bribes and runs after payments; the orphan they do not judge, and the quarrel of the widow does not come to them”.
“And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, even when you pray at length, I do not hear; your hands are full of blood”.
These terrible accusations put our ancestors under heavy criticism and still echo until today.
But at the end of the Haftarah, after Isaiah feels the pain of the gap between the vision and reality, he touches on the key points that can transform our great nation into a nation that is a role model, enlightening the world. “Zion shall be redeemed in judgment and her city restored in righteousness.”
The more our people grasp ahold of the Torah, it’s values and thoughts, the more our people will dedicate themselves to charity and kindness. We will return to ourselves, we will return to our greatness.
Shabbat Hazon is a Shabbat of great dreams and expectations – on one hand the feeling for the gaps between where we were and where we should be. Sentiments that should lead us to the question, “how can we improve ourselves” to please Hashem with our behavior and how to use our imagination and resourcefulness. A path that will allow our efforts to bear fruit so that the Almighty will see in his eyes our good and sincere desire to approach him so that he will bless us with his divine spirit from above.
This year, the fast is starting this Saturday at 7:45 pm and ending on Sunday at 8:15 pm. During the Taanit there are some restrictions. It is not permitted to eat or drink; it is not permitted to wash one’s body nor anoint oneself. We should avoid wearing leather shoes, and we should also abstain from marital relations.
Rabbi Refael Cohen