By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
SAN DIEGO — This Shabbat has a special name. It is called “Shabbat Chazon,” after the first few words of the Haftarah. The Haftarah contains the dire prophecy/vision (“chazon”) of the prophet Isaiah concerning the impending destruction of Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s prophecy is traditionally read on the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av, the day upon which the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Tisha B’Av is a day filled with lamentation and fasting. This year Tisha B’Av begins on Monday evening, July 19th and continues through Tuesday, July 20th.
Ever since we were exiled from our land Jews have longed to return to Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem. Some Jews were so inspired that they traveled to the Holy City of Jerusalem centuries before the establishment of the modern State of Israel. However, life in Jerusalem was extremely difficult and primitive.
Some pilgrims regretted their decision and returned home.
In the early 19th century a Chasid decided to fulfill his dream of living in Jerusalem. He left Poland, weathered a difficult and treacherous journey, and finally arrived in the Holy City.
However, after several months he found life too difficult there and decided to return to Poland.
He approached the great Chassidic master, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, who was at that time living in Jerusalem, told him why he was leaving, and asked for a farewell blessing.
Rabbi Simcha responded, “I feel very badly for you. Apparently, you have not found favor in the eyes of Jerusalem, for if you had, Jerusalem would have also found favor in your eyes.”
The Chasid took Rabbi Simcha’s lesson to heart and decided to remain in Jerusalem.
Even today living in Jerusalem can be a challenge. There are congestion and noise and internal as well as external conflict with which to contend. Yet, there is no other city like her in the world. Once she embraces you, she is impossible to forget, and one’s heart always longs to return.
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue