Shabbat Parashat Devarim Shabbat Chazon

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us this Friday night and Shabbat morning as we celebrate Eli and Seth Green’s bar mitzvah!  Mazal Tov to Eli and to Seth and to their entire family!!!

This Shabbat is named Shabbat Chazon [the Shabbat of Vision] as the first word of the haftarah (the traditional weekly reading from the Prophets) read each year on the Shabbat preceding the Fast of Tisha B’Av is, in Hebrew: “Chazon” (in English: “Vision”).  In the haftarah, the prophet, Isaiah, sets forth his vision for the Jewish people – a vision of individual and collective responsibility, justice, and hope.

Tisha B’Av, the Ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, is a day of mourning which includes a full day of fasting (like Yom Kippur).  Since this year, the Ninth of Av is on Shabbat, the fast is put off until the Shabbat is over, and it begins of Saturday night and continues through Sunday evening, ending when we can see three stars in the heavens on Sunday evening.  Traditionally, during the fast day, we also refrain from wearing leather shoes; abstain from sexual relations; we do not bathe except for the most minimal washing needed to maintain our health; we do not apply skin or bath oils; and we do not study Jewish religious texts except for those in keeping with the somber nature of the day (for example: “Megillat Eicha” – the Scroll of Lamentations, or the Book of Job).  We also refrain from greeting one another with the word: “Shalom” (Peace).

Why the somber mood on the Fast of Tisha B’Av?

This day commemorates the destruction of both the first and the second Temples in Jerusalem.  It also commemorates many other catastrophes that befell our people over the centuries, including the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.  Living, as we do today, in a time when anti-semitic acts of violence are on the rise, we mourn the calmaties of the past, and look forward to a time when the vision of our prophets will be reflected in the reality of our world – a vision of individual and collective responsibility, of peace, of justice, and of hope.

As we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Eli and Seth Green, let us move forward with determination and with faith. Let us gather strength from Eli and Seth’s presence in our midst and from all the signs of blessing and of healing around us that point to a brighter future for all of us, for all the people Israel, and for all good people everywhere!

Wishing us all an easy and a meaningful fast on Saturday night and on Sunday, and before that, Mazal Tov to Eli and Seth Green and to their entire family on their bar mitzvah!!!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror