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Shabbat of Vision

Shabbat of Vision


And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, but the people with me did not see it; yet a great terror befell them, and they fled into hiding. (Daniel 10:7)

But if they did not see the vision, why were they terrified? Because though they themselves did not see, their souls saw. (Talmud, Megillah 3a)

On the ninth day of the month of Av (“Tisha B’Av”) we fast and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Both the first Temple (833–423 BCE) and the second Temple (349 BCE–69 CE) were destroyed on this date. The Shabbat preceding the fast day is called the “Shabbat of Vision,” for on this Shabbat we read a chapter from the Prophets (Isaiah 1:1–27) that begins, “The vision of Isaiah . . .”

But there is also a deeper significance to the name “Shabbat of Vision,” expressed by chassidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev with the following metaphor:

A father once prepared a beautiful suit of clothes for his son. But the child neglected his father’s gift, and soon the suit was in tatters. The father gave the child a second suit of clothes; this one, too, was ruined by the child’s carelessness. So, the father made a third suit. This time, however, he withholds it from his son. Every once in a while, on special and opportune times, he shows the suit to the child, explaining that when the child learns to appreciate and properly care for the gift, it will be given to him. This induces the child to improve his behavior, until it gradually becomes second nature to him—at which time he will be worthy of his father’s gift.

On the “Shabbat of Vision,” says Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, each and every one of us is granted a vision of the third and final Temple—a vision that, to paraphrase the Talmud, “though we do not ourselves see, our souls see.” This vision evokes a profound response in us, even if we are not consciously aware of the cause of our sudden inspiration.

The Divine Dwelling

The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the seat of G‑d’s manifest presence in the physical world.

A basic tenet of our faith is that “The entire earth is filled with His presence” (Isaiah 6:3) and “There is no place void of Him” (Tikkunei Zohar 57); but G‑d’s presence and involvement in His creation is masked by the seemingly independent and arbitrary workings of nature and history. The Holy Temple was a breach in the mask, a window through which G‑d radiated His light into the world. Here G‑d’s involvement in our world was openly displayed by an edifice in which miracles were a “natural” part of its daily operation and whose very space expressed the infinity and all-pervasiveness of the Creator. Here G‑d showed himself to man, and man presented himself to G‑d.

Twice we were given the gift of a divine dwelling in our midst. Twice we failed to measure up to this gift, and banished the divine presence from our lives.

So, G‑d built us a third Temple. Unlike its two predecessors, which were of human construction and therefore subject to debasement by man’s misdeeds, the third Temple is as eternal and invincible as its omnipotent architect. But G‑d has withheld this “third suit of clothes” from us, confining its reality to a higher, heavenly sphere, beyond the sight and experience of earthly man.

Each year, on the “Shabbat of Vision,” G‑d shows us the third Temple. Our souls behold a vision of a world at peace with itself and its Creator, a world suffused with the knowledge and awareness of G‑d, a world that has realized its divine potential for goodness and perfection. It is a vision of the third Temple in heaven—in its spiritual and elusive state—like the third set of clothes that the chld’s father has made for him but is withholding from him. But it is also a vision with a promise—a vision of a heavenly temple poised to descend to earth, a vision that inspires us to correct our behavior and hasten the day when the spiritual vision becomes tactual reality. Through these repeated visions, living in the divine presence becomes more and more “second nature” to us, progressively elevating us to the state of worthiness to experience the divine in our daily lives.

The Wearable House

The metaphors of our sages continue to speak to us long after the gist of their message has been assimilated. Beneath the surface of the metaphor’s most obvious import lie layers upon layers of meaning, in which each and every detail of the narrative is significant.

The same applies to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s metaphor. Its basic meaning is clear, but many subtle insights lie hidden in its details. For example: Why, we might ask, are the three Temples portrayed as three suits of clothes? Would not the example of a building or house have been more appropriate?

The house and the garment both “house” and envelop the person. But the garment does so in a much more personal and individualized manner. While it is true that the dimensions and style of a home reflect the nature of its occupant, they do so in a more generalized way-not as specifically and as intimately as a garment suits its wearer.

On the other hand, the individual nature of the garment limits its function to one’s personal use. A home can house many; a garment can clothe only one. I can invite you into my home, but I cannot share my garment with you: even if I give it to you, it will not clothe you as it clothes me, for it “fits” only myself.

G‑d chose to reveal His presence in our world in a “dwelling”—a communal structure that goes beyond the personal to embrace an entire people and the entire community of man. Yet the Holy Temple in Jerusalem also had certain garment-like features. It is these features that Rabbi Levi Yitzchak wishes to emphasize by portraying the Holy Temple as a suit of clothes.

For the Holy Temple was also a highly compartmentalized structure. There was a Women’s Court and a courtyard reserved for men, an area restricted to the kohanim (priests), a “sanctuary” (heichal) imbued with a greater sanctity than the “courtyards,” and the “Holy of Holies”—a chamber into which only the high priest may enter, and only on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. The Talmud enumerates eight domains of varying sanctity within the Temple complex, each with its distinct function and purpose.

In other words, although the Temple expressed a single truth—the all-pervasive presence of G‑d in our world—it did so to each individual in a personalized manner. Although it was a “house” in the sense that it served many individuals—indeed, the entire world—as their meeting point with the infinite, each and every individual found it a tailor-made “garment” for his or her specific spiritual needs, according him or her a personal and intimate relationship with G‑d.

Each year, on the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, we are shown a vision of our world as a divine home—a place where all G‑d’s creatures will experience His presence. But this is also a vision of a G‑dly “garment”—the distinctly personal relationship with G‑d, particularly suited to our individual character and aspirations, that we will each enjoy when the third divine Temple descends to earth.

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson; adapted by Yanki Tauber.
Originally published in Week in Review.
Republished with the permission of If you wish to republish this article in a periodical, book, or website, please email
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Katherine Hans Von Rotes Schild Zitler san francisco July 31, 2014

third temple A father shows his children or tells them something good to cheer them up or to give them hope in a time when their are in moments of pain and greef Reply

katrin Germany July 12, 2013

RE: Yirmiyahu Ben Azriel Maybe because from our view, it will be built, but from His view, since the past, the present and the future are all His, the 3rd Temple is already there. For Him there's no future, only for us. I can't picture this view myself, but only try to rationalize it. Reply

Yirmiyahu Ben Azriel Sydney, Australia July 12, 2013

This is a great article and it really resonates with me. I am a little confused though. How can it be that G-d has already made the 3rd Beit Hamikdash if it is prophecied that the Mashiach will build it? Reply

Anonymous July 10, 2013

Thank you I can't tell you what this article did for is so important... Reply

sophia Ashland July 8, 2013

the third temple Where was the Women's court located in the temple? From where do we learn this? I have not heard of this before.
Thank you for this article. Shabbat of Vision. Reply

Brian Sandridge simsbury July 7, 2013

If we build it He will come Why do we so often settle for spiritualizing that which is meant for actuality. The Mishkan and the Temples were built by men. Why would the Third Temple be otherwise? Reply

Steve Malta July 24, 2009

To: Anonymous The third suit is made for all. I call it the Leviticus 11:44 cut. Better than Armani... Reply

Reb Zisha Bristoler Boston, MA, USA July 24, 2009

Position of gentiles Dear Anonymous,

I hope you see this answer almost a year later!

As a gentile you can also enjoy the third divine Temple. You don't have to be Jewish! The prophet Isaiah writes of G!d saying, "My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL the peoples." If you live a life of basic goodness, outlined in the 7 univeralistic "commandments of the children of Noah", you are also worthy of being in the temple.

Kol tuv/All goodness,

Reb Zisha Reply

Steve July 24, 2009

As one born a non-Jew (but to whom G-d is speaking as if a covenanted Jew), I have to say this article (and comments) are a breath of fresh air. Reply

Anonymous August 5, 2008

You write:

"But this is also a vision of a G-dly "garment" -- the distinctly personal relationship with G-d, particularly suited to our individual character and aspirations, that we will each enjoy when the third divine Temple descends to earth."

I resonate with these words; but who is included in the "we will each..."? What will be the position of gentiles such as myself? Reply

Thomas Karp August 7, 2005

to Kevin Smith The answer to your question, Kevin, is right before you: The 'third suit' is withheld until it is ready to be accepted. In other words, you can't necessarily get someone(s) to accept what's right before they are ready to listen and learn; and thus sometimes it's the better part of valor to hold your peace. Of course, many of us fail to do this, but it's right nonetheless. Kevin, have you ever wandered why some people preach so loudly as if G-d can hear them the better for it? G-d could very well hear the letter aleph better then any other letter, which maybe one of the reasons why He put it first. Reply

Kevin Smith (Gilad Benyamin) August 7, 2005

"Of course" I always enjoy Tauber's writings, but this one struck me quite profoundly. First, the idea of a father going to the immense trouble of cutting and sewing THREE suits for his son is a great labor of love, especially afetr the first two were treated so carelessly. But so is the whitholding of the last one. That we could be worthy - all of us - of the Third Temple and all it means. We have to learn so much...

But this begs the question as to why Jews do not proseltyze like the goyim do. Especially since we seem to have the ultimate vision more clearly articulated, and it includes everyone, not just the "saved." Hmmm....

Heather F. Barrett Newport, Vermont August 20, 2004

Kabbalist I Can't believe this has taken so long to find me, I've known all this and have been somwhat practicing since i can remember, Now all the puzle pieces fit together!!!
Sincerly Reply

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