Friday, July 28, 2006

Shabbos Chazon - the Ishbitzer and R' Tzadok on re'iya and binah

R’ Tzadok haKohen m'Lublin writes that the 3 haftaros of puranusa (evil tidings) which we read before 9 Av – Divrei Yirmiyahu, Shimu, and Chazon – correspond to the three attributes of dibbur (speech), shmiya (hearing), and re’iya (sight), which in turn correspond to the three higher sefiros of keser, chochma, and binah. I don’t think in a few paragraphs I can do justice to explaining this idea fully, but at least for Shabbos Devarim - Chazon wanted to try to shed some light on the relationship between re’iya/chazon and the tikkun of binah, understanding. The Ishbitzer teaches (P’ VaYakhel) that the word “re’u”, see, when used in the Torah, is a keyword that means to look beyond the superficial appearance of things in order to discern some deeper meaning. Some examples: “Re’eh karasi b’shem Betzalel”, see I have called to Betzalel – look beyond the fact that Moshe did the appointment and realize it was not his choice, but I, Hashem, who called for his appointment. Eished Potifar declares, ‘re’u havi lanu ish ivri l’tzachek banu” – here in the negative, she calls on the onlookers to not be "deceived" by Yosef’s outward appearance of innocence and accept her declaration that he is charlatan. Pharoah accuses Moshe, “re’u ki ra’ah neged pneichem”, there is some hidden evil plan you have in mind. It is probably not coincidence that the word “r’eu” b’gematriya is the same as the word “raz” secret. With this idea we can appreciate the conncetion R' Tzadok draws between sight, re’iya/chazon, and the concept of binah, understanding. The sight the Torah speaks of is not merely observing the superficial appearance of events, but is seeing the reality of the world through the prism of Torah and grasping the true meaning of things. I remember in college taking a course in perceptual psychology, and time and again this simple lesson was underscored – sight is not just a physical process, but is a cognitive process as well.
The Ishbitzer writes that the 9th pasuk of every parsha has a deep sod beyond the pashut pshat. In P’ Devarim the 9th pasuk is “lo uchal levadi s'es eschem”, Moshe’s complaint that alone he could not bear the burden of the Jewish people’s complaints, while led to the appointment of judges. The Ishbitzer explains: Moshe Rabeinu sensed that it was Yehoshua who was destined to lead the Jewish people into the Land, yet he deeply wished to be the one to fulfill that mission. “Eichah esah levadi”, for Moshe alone the burden was too great, as his personal tefilos that we read in next week’s parsha could not overturn the gezeirah against him, yet if Klal Yisrael had davened on his behalf, there was room for mercy. We heard Moshe call, yet we failed to truly see what was before us. We should have had the intelligence to discern that it was our tefillos, not our acceptance of substitute judges, which is what Moshe wanted. Moshe’s lamented that he could find no judges who were nevonim, people of understanding for precisely this reason. We grasped the superficial sense of the words, but lacked the insight, the binah, which marks true “re'iya”.
Rashi cites the Sifri to explain the appointment of judges who were “yedu’im”, known people: Moshe said when someone sat before him wrapped in a talis, he could not discern what sheivet or place that person came from, but to outsiders, these facts were known. In life, we wrap ourselves in levushim, garments that conceal our identity – the face we wear at work is often not who we really are, and for some, the face they wear in shule is also not who they really are. Life is a series of acts and roles that we step in and out of as required. When a person came wrapped in his talis, Moshe had no cognizance of the levush, the where and who of the person’s outer self, the veil of piety or honor that a person may don, but Moshe saw with re'iya the depths of each person’s soul as it truly was. The Zohar writes that Moshe could pasken a din Torah without the litigants needing proof or witnesses – he simply saw the truth in souls of the parties. By failing to heed the call of “eichah esah levadi”, we accepted a substitute. Without going through yeshivishe lomdus in Baba Metziya, it is obvious that concepts like rov and muchzak tell the court how to act based on the evidence before them, but do not guarantee that the law ever arrives at truth – these are rules of hanhaga, not rules of birur. Our judgment lacks the power of true insight, reiya behind the facts into the soul and truth of the matter, and relies on the substitute of superficial evidence.
When the Tanaim saw foxes running in the makom mikdash (Makos 24) they cried in sorrow, yet R’ Akiva laughed, confident that just as the prophecy of destruction was fulfilled, the prophecy of rebuilding would be as well. Did the other Tanaim doubt the nevuah of eventual geulah? The Midrash teaches, ‘V’chol yekar ra’asa eino’ – that which was not revealed to Moshe Rabeinu was revealed to R’ Akiva (see Menachos 29). R’ Akiva was the master of torah sheba’al peh, the master of seeing the depths of Torah within what was revealed at Sinai. R’ Tzadok haKohein teaches that others believed in the prophecy of redemption, but their eyes were filled with the desolation which surrounded them. R’ Akiva taught that there is yet a higher level – even as one looks at desolation, one who has true understanding and in-sight sees only goodness. This is true re’iya, seeing reality not with physical eyes alone, but with the cognizance of binah that reveals the shoresh below the surface, the neshoma of reality which is kulo tov.
Shabbos Chazon calls to us for the tikun of re'iya, the ability to see even in the pain that surrounds am yisrael at this time, the seeds of redemption - u're'eh b'tuv yerushalayim v'shalom al yisrael.


  1. Anonymous9:10 AM

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  2. Anonymous4:37 AM

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  3. Anonymous12:18 AM

    very nice. I heard that Kedushas Levi says that it's called Shabbos Chazon because once a year HaShem allows us to get a glimpse into what the third Bais HaMikdash will look like.