The opening passage of Devarim is invariably read on the Shabbos that precedes the Ninth of Av, the fast that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples. This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Chazon , because the first word of its Haftorah is chazon, (“vision”).

The illustrious Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that on this Shabbos, “every Jew is granted a vision from afar of the future Holy Temple.”1

The connection between the Torah portion of Devarim and Shabbos Chazon will be understood accordingly.

Devarim , the first portion of the fifth Book of the Torah, is known as Mishnah Torah — the “repetition of the Torah.” Although all five Books make up the one Torah, there is a difference between Mishnah Torah and the first four Books.2

The difference lies in the fact that Mishnah Torah was said to the generation that entered the Holy Land. It was therefore necessary to caution about certain things.

The generation that was in the desert was known as a “generation of knowledge”;3 its members were of similar stature to their leader Moshe, and thus capable of “seeing” G‑dliness.

This was not the case with the generation that entered the Holy Land. It was a generation involved with the physical. Its members thus lacked the ability to “see” G‑dliness, and were only able to perceive it in a manner of “hearing.” Thus Moshe said to them: “And now Israel hear….”4

The difference between seeing and hearing is5 that when one sees something, there is no doubt; nothing can convince a person that things are different from what he saw.

When one only hears about something, however, although one may understand and fully agree, one may change one’s mind if confronted by a question or argument. This indicates that the thing that was heard entered the person in only a limited fashion.

Thus, Mishnah Torah , which was given to people who could only “hear” about G‑dliness, speaks of self-sacrifice and the like — matters that didn’t have to be addressed to the previous generation.

Although this second generation was of a lower spiritual stature than the first, it nevertheless possessed a merit that the first generation lacked. Thus we find concerning the first generation: “For you have not arrived until now to the place of tranquillity, the place of inheritance,”6 which refers to Shiloh and Jerusalem.7

The reason why the inferior generation was able to attain something denied the more superior generation lies in the fact that the very descent into occupation with material matters enabled its members to fulfill the divine intent represented by the Tabernacle in Shiloh and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The Shabbos of Devarim thus indicates a unification of two opposites: It is a state of great descent, but this descent leads to the ultimate ascent; this inferior generation was able to accomplish something that could not be achieved by the superior generation.

Shabbos Chazon also combines two opposite elements. On one hand, it is one of the “Nine Days,” (and may even be — as it is this year — the Ninth of Av itself,) the day that commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple.

Yet at the same time, it is specifically through this descent that we merit the coming of Moshiach and the third Holy Temple. And that is why on this day all Jews receive a vision, albeit from afar, of the third and most magnificent Holy Temple of all, the one that will speedily be built through our Righteous Moshiach.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. II, pp. 357-358.