Last Shabbat was known as Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of Vision. It received the name of vision from the Haftara Isaiah 1:1-27, which begins “the vision of Isaiah” which he saw the downfall of the Temples (Read the previous newsletter Equipped to Love to learn why the first two were destroyed). As per most, if not all, subjects in the Torah which are seemingly rebukes, curses, or punishments, there is an inner meaning that reveals a brighter, more uplifting understanding.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740–1809) aka the Berdichever, shares a deeper meaning to the Shabbat of Vision. He taught that the inner meanings is that on the Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat prior to Tisha B'av (9th of Av when the Temples and other turbulent historical events occurred), is that “G-d shows every Jew a vision of the Third Temple.” Last Shabbat, I heard from one of my Rabbis the following parable the Berdichever used to explain this insight:
A father gave his beloved son an expensive garment, but because the son mistreated the garment, it was torn and damaged. Since the father loves his son and understands childish behavior, the father made a second garment for him. Although the son was a bit more careful, he once again acted foolishly and had it damaged. Finally, the father made his son a third garment, but this time he stored it away, showing it to him only periodically and telling him that when he learns to take care of such a garment properly, he will give it to him and let him wear it.
As you may have been keen to realize, the father in the parable is G-d, the son is the Jewish people, and the three garments are the Temples.
This may not have been the first time I heard the parable, but after hearing it this year complimented by the continuous learning of chassidic insight into parables, I began to consider the details of the parable from the holy Berdichever.
In chassidic thought, there is a soul and garments of the soul (like I wrote in Identity to Expression). In simple terms, the soul is who you are and the garments express the different roles you play, but the garment is not who you are. Per the contemporary question, “who are you?” truly, you are not what you do. Rather, what you do, say your job, is simply a role. Often, the activity or purpose someone is going to engage in, their garment will be appropriate for the intended purpose i.e a basketball player will wear a basketball outfit. However, simply wearing a certain outfit doesn’t make the person into that role. Another aspect of a garment is that a person can change the garments.
According to chassidus, the garments of the soul represent the person’s thoughts, speech, and actions. A person has agency or the ability to choose how to think, speak, and act. Similarly, science of change can help us further understand this concept. Dr. Joe Dispenza shares that your personality creates your personal reality, and your personality consists of how you think, feel, and act. In order to change something about one’s personal reality, such as their health, career, and/or relationships, one has to change their personality through changing the way they think, feel, and act.
Although the above is a brief explanation into the garments of the soul and what personality is, it is sufficient enough to return to the parable from the Berditchever - the father periodically telling his son that when he learns to take care of such a garment properly, he will give it to him and let him wear it - and its relation to the vision of the Temple G-d showed us and is constantly showing us, or said another way, empowering us to be ready for. Another way of looking at the destruction of the first two temples, or the garments G-d made for us, is that our collective thought, speech, and action were not in alignment to be able to wear the Temple, or the garment. The Temple being built is an element of the era of the Messiah when the world is at completion. This includes the individual expressing and collective expression of the yechida level of their soul, the highest and truest, in their day-to-day life.
Consider thinking about your current personality - the way you think, feel, and act (including speech). Then, how do you think your yeshida self would think, feel, and act. Perhaps, more pure in thought, loving towards others, and feeling in a state of gratitude.
Put simply, we have to become worthy of wearing the third garment i.e having the Third Temple. It is up to us as individuals and a community to prepare ourselves to receive the third Temple.
Often it is understood that G-d shows a vision during the night when people are sleeping; however, a vision does not necessarily mean a dream. A vision can be shown to a person as a day in his or her life, which gives a foretaste to what life can be like and will be like. In other words, what if the “vision of the Third Temple” that “G-d shows every Jew,” is the Shabbat each of us had last shabbat? Even more so since this year the 9th of Av, which is usually a fast day in commemoration of the destructions, was on Shabbat. This meant, as we experienced, that the fast was pushed off to Sunday. Said another way, this last shabbat was a taste of the redemption because it is said that in the era of the Messiah, the 9th of Av will be transformed into a day of rejoicing and celebration, including full of delightful and delicious food instead of a fast. If you had the fortune to be at a Shabbat table like I did last week, the meal, especially the cholent, was one of the most delicious and memorable shabbat meals I have had to date. The day too was very pleasant and enjoyable, which felt like a taste of what’s continuously arriving into our awareness.
If the Shabbat you had seemingly wasn’t so uplifting, another effective way to consider the Shabbat is as a reflection of your current garment, which gives insight into what you can improve. The Baal Shemtov would teach, per the journal from the Friedeker Rebbe in Soviet Prison attempting to derive a personal lesson from the disturbing treatment he received, that “every word or syllable, every sight or image, that a man hears or sees, is a directive in some area of his divine service.” Since the destruction of the Second Temple was due to baseless hatred, we can also learn from another teaching of the Baal Shemtov, “Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering - you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.”
Questions to ask yourself (adopted from Becoming Worthy part 1 by Dr. Joe Dispenza):
What is it I still have to change about myself that will bring me closer to that particular future?
How can I become more of that person in thought, deed, and emotion?
In conclusion, the Haftara concludes with verse, “Zion will be redeemed through justice and her captives through tzedakah.” The Alter Rebbe in Likkutei Torah for last week’s portion, Devarim, and subsequent Rebbeim, including the Rebbe, have discourses on this final verse and it’s inner meaning. A few main lessons from it are that the word for captives veshaveha shares connection with the word for return, teshuva , hinting that the captives will not be redeemed, but they will return to their true self. The Rebbe shares that the verse also alludes to the redemption of our soul and our body. In truth, the Friedeker Rebbe would say, “only the body is in exile, not the soul.” Simply put, the body will be redeemed and the soul will return to how it’s expressed in the higher worlds down here in this world. The discourse shares an important teaching in Chassidus, which is descent for the purpose of ascent. In other words, the soul descending into a body, which is coarse and seemingly distant from G-d, is actually to ascend it to a higher place than it was in Heaven. This is precisely because in the world by living it’s purpose of elevating the physicality, the soul creates a “dwelling for G-d in this world.”
As learned in the parable from the Berditcher and in the discourses from the Rebbeim, through tzedaka (charity), learning Torah, meditating on G-d, loving your fellow (blog below), sitting in silence, and the like, we can transform darkness into light and reveal the light from darkness, thereby revealing our truest self as individuals and our Unity as a nation and a world.
The newsletter Equipped to Love includes Tools to “Equip” yourself with to ensure you’re on the top of your game physically, mentally, and spiritually, such as meditation being most likely of primary importance, that apply to becoming worthy of the Third Temple i.e expressing your truest self. Also, checkout the Ultimate Guides on my website.