1. Shabbos Chazon receives its name from the Haftorah which begins, “Chazon Yeshayahu — A vision of Yeshayahu.” Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev explains that the phrase contains another implication: Each individual Jew receives a vision of the Messianic Beis HaMikdash. This vision is shown to awaken a desire for the Beis HaMikdash within each member of our people which will be powerful enough to motivate him to increase his service of Torah and mitzvos. This, in turn, will hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption.

Not every Jew is consciously aware of this vision. Nevertheless, the sight has an effect upon him. This can be explained based on our Sages’ explanation of a passage in Daniel. The Bible relates that after Daniel saw a vision, the people who accompanied him also became afraid, although they had not witnessed the vision. Our Sages explain “Even though they did not see, the spiritual source of their souls was exposed to the vision.” This, in turn, effected the people themselves and caused them to tremble in fear.

Similarly, in the present context, even though each one of us may not be aware of seeing the Beis HaMikdash, the spiritual source of our souls is conscious of this revelation. This is powerful enough to cause our souls, even as enclothed within our bodies, to refine our behavior.

This interpretation prompts two questions: 1) On the surface, it would seem that this vision would be more appropriate on Shabbos Nachamu, the Shabbos following Tishah BeAv and not on the Shabbos preceding it. We find the three Shabbasos preceding Tishah BeAv referred to as “The Three Shabbasos of Retribution.”1 Indeed, the concept of retribution is emphasized more in this Haftorah than in the previous. (Also, the content of the Haftorah deals with severe retribution, the direct opposite of the vision of the Beis HaMikdash.) Similarly, the customs associated with mourning are more powerful in the week in which Tishah BeAv falls than in the other days of the Three Weeks. Why is the vision of the Beis HaMikdash revealed during such a period? 2) It would appear that this vision was revealed on Shabbos Chazon from the time of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash on. If so, why was no mention of it was made in the many generations which preceded Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev?

These questions can be resolved through an understanding of the spiritual service associated with the three Shabbasos of retribution and the seven Shabbasos of consolation. The descent associated with these Three Weeks is — like all descents — intended for an ascent. The intent of the descent is to reach a new level, higher than the level which could have been reached without the descent.

Thus, the descent itself can be seen as a step in a process of ascent. Furthermore, although from our perspective, it is seen as a descent, from G‑d’s perspective, it is an ascent. (To use an allegory: When a teacher wants to communicate a new concept to a student, at first, there is a stage of concealment, but afterwards, this concealment leads to revelation. Indeed, the deeper the new concept is, the greater the initial period of concealment. Furthermore, throughout the entire process, the teacher is always conscious of the new concept he wants to communicate.)

In order that the ascent be revealed within this world, the service of the Jews is necessary. That service allows for G‑d’s initial intent to be fulfilled, that G‑dly light be revealed within our worldly existence, this revelation bringing about a greater level of completion than existed previously.

This concept can be used to explain the sequence of exile and redemption. On an apparent level, the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the exile brought about the concealment of G‑dliness. The intent of these activities is, nevertheless, the ultimate good, the revelation of the Messianic Beis HaMikdash which will transcend entirely all previous revelations.2 Furthermore, the Messianic Beis HaMikdash will be an eternal building, never to be destroyed again. It is worth undergoing the temporary concealment of exile to merit this great revelation. Through our service of G‑d within the exile, we bring about the revelation of this great light.

On this basis, we can understand the concept of the three3 Shabbasos of retribution and the seven Shabbasos of consolation. On the surface, the Haftoros recited on these three Shabbasos deal with retribution, destruction, and exile, nevertheless, the inner intent is the new revelation associated with the Messianic Beis HaMikdash. In this context, the consolation of the subsequent seven weeks is merely a revelation of the good and love that existed previously.

In this context, we can understand our Sages’ statement:

A lion [Nebuchadnezzar] arose in [the month whose] sign is a lion [Av] and destroyed Arial [“the lion of G‑d,” the Beis HaMikdash] so that a lion [G‑d] will come in [the month whose] sign is a lion and build Arial.

Similarly, Yirmeyahu prophesies, “I will transform your mourning into celebration,” i.e., the inner meaning of the mourning itself will be celebration.4

Based on the above, we can understand why the vision of the Messianic Beis HaMikdash is shown to every Jew on the Shabbos preceding Tishah BeAv. The fact that the darkness of the exile is greater is itself a sign of the magnitude of the new revelation which we are awaiting.5 Therefore, on the Shabbos on which the exile is most deeply felt, Shabbos Chazon, each Jew is shown a vision of the Beis HaMikdash. This vision is intended to motivate the Jew to greater service of G‑d for this is the medium which will bring about the actual, concrete revelation of the Beis HaMikdash within this world.

Similarly, we can understand why this concept was revealed and taught by Rebbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev6 in the present era and not previously. Although the vision of the Beis HaMikdash was also revealed to the Jews on Shabbos Chazon in previous generations, the concept was revealed in a manner that could be intellectually comprehended — and therefore, meditated upon — in the present era which directly precedes the coming of Mashiach.

This era is called ikvesa diMeshicha, “the footsteps of Mashiach.” This name, however, can also mean “the heels of Mashiach.” The latter meaning is significant. The heel is the least sensitive portion of the body. Indeed, our Sages referred to the heel as “the angel of death within a person.” Similarly, the present era is one in which the least Divine light and life-energy is revealed. Nevertheless, as explained above, this concealment is merely a stage in the revelation of a higher and greater light. This light will be revealed by the service of the Jews in this time period and therefore, the concept was taught to the Jews in this age.

The revelation of this teaching in the era of “the footsteps of Mashiach” shares a parallel with the service of the Jews in the actual Beis HaMikdash. The main connection of the Jews as a whole to the Beis HaMikdash came through the pilgrimage festivals, a service conducted with the feet. Similarly, the revelation of the teaching intended to motivate the service which will bring the Beis HaMikdash is in “the footsteps of Mashiach.” May the service inspired by this bring about the renewal of those pilgrimage festivals.

2. The above concepts are associated with the Torah portions read this week, Parshas Devarim, which is read in the morning, and Parshas Vaes’chanan, whose reading is begun in the afternoon service. Vaes’chanan begins with Moshe’s prayer to enter Eretz Yisrael. The commentaries explain that had Moshe’s prayer been granted and permission given him to enter Eretz Yisrael, he would have built an eternal Beis HaMikdash and the Messianic Era would have begun.

Though Moshe’s request was not granted at that time, that request — as all concepts included in the Torah — is eternal and ultimately, will be granted. This will surely occur in the near future since “all the appointed times for Mashiach’s coming have passed.” Soon Moshe will — together with the entire Jewish people — enter Eretz Yisrael and witness the construction of the Beis HaMikdash which will be an eternal structure.

This is also associated with the name Vaes’chanan (ואתחנן) which contains two nunnin. Our Sages teach that a word which contains a nun is a sign of miracles and a word containing two nunnin is a sign of “wondrous miracles.” This is particularly true since the final nun of Vaes’chanan is prolonged, alluding to a revelation of these miracles as they are drawn down to the lowest levels.

The numerical equivalent of Vaes’chanan (ואתחנן), 515, is also significant. Our Sages describe the world’s limits in stages of 500. The number fifteen refers to the name of G‑d, v-h. Thus, the 515 prayers recited by Moshe reflect his intent that the revelation of v-h permeate throughout the entire world.

The concept of redemption is also related to Parshas Devarim. Even though Parshas Devarim centers on the rebuke given by Moshe to the Jewish people — which is paralleled in the Haftorah which also contains a message of rebuke — the nature of that rebuke is unique. Rather than rebuke the people openly, Moshe clothed his intent in allusions. He did this “because of the honor of the Jews.” Thus, the message which is openly revealed by this portion is the emphasis on “the honor of the Jews.”

Similarly, the portion also speaks at length of the entry into Eretz Yisrael including also mention of the conquest of the land extending to the Euphrates river. This was never realized in history. Even in the days of King Solomon, the boundary of Eretz Yisrael never extended that far north. Only in the Messianic Age will this prophecy be fulfilled.

Furthermore, the portion also describes how the tribes of Reuven and Gad actually received their portion of Eretz Yisrael in Transjordan. Furthermore, the choice of these tribes to remain in Transjordan rather than enter Eretz Yisrael can be explained as a desire to spread and extend Eretz Yisrael beyond its natural boundaries (similar to the revelation of the name v-h throughout the entire world as explained above.)

This is also reflected in the explicit reason why these tribes chose this land. They wanted land for their herds to graze, their concern for their animals reflecting an inner desire to elevate their animal souls and their portion in the world at large.

On this basis, we can resolve an obvious difficulty in the Torah’s description of their discussion with Moshe. They told Moshe that they would build “enclosures for their sheep” and afterwards, “cities for their children.” Moshe objected, pointing out the misguided choice of priorities. The question arises: How is it possible for a person to place his property before his children? It is a natural human tendency to derive greater pleasure from one’s children than from anything else in the world.

On the basis of the above explanation, however, their statements can be understood. They were emphasizing that their desire to settle in Transjordan stemmed from a spiritual intent, the desire to refine and elevate their portion in the world at large. This service lifted them up to a higher spiritual level as can be derived from our Sages statement that a person’s money “stands him up on his feet,” i.e., grants him the potential to stand upright in his service of G‑d.7

3. The concept of redemption is also alluded to in the Haftorah of this Shabbos. Indeed, its concluding verse, “Zion will be redeemed by judgment and those who return to her by tzedakah,” teaches us the service necessary to bring the redemption. “Judgment” refers to Torah study (and in particular, the study of halachah). Tzedakah, in addition to its simple meaning, charity — a mitzvah which is equal to all the other mitzvos — also refers to the performance of all the mitzvos. Increases in “judgment” and “tzedakah” constitute the service which will bring about the redemption.8 Particularly, after the vision of the Beis HaMikdash of Shabbos Chazon, it is necessary to make such increases.

In particular, our Torah study should concern itself with the Beis HaMikdash for study of the laws of the Beis HaMikdash is equivalent to building it. Similarly, during the Nine Days, efforts should be made to make siyumim.

In this context, it is appropriate to mention the conclusion of Hilchos Tumas Ochlin in the Mishneh Torah which was completed Friday. These halachos conclude with quoting a teaching authored by Rabbi Pinchas Yair which is — in certain texts of the Mishnah9 — the final mishnah in the tractate of Sotah.

The tractate of Sotah relates to the concepts of exile and redemption. A sotah is a woman who “becomes hidden from the eyes of her husband” and is suspected of relations with another man. This parallels the stage in the love relationship between the Jewish people and G‑d where they are — at least apparently — hidden from each other (exile) and there is a suspicion that the Jews have been unfaithful. However, ultimately, it will be revealed that all these suspicions are unfounded. The Jews are “undefiled” and can renew their relationship with G‑d. On the contrary, just as a sotah whose faithfulness is proven is granted blessings regarding the birth of children, the Jews will have the potential for new birth, bringing the Messianic Era. This is alluded to by the above teaching which concludes, “the Resurrection of the Dead will by performed by Elijah, of blessed memory.”

There is a further connection which the present days share with the concept of redemption. Tomorrow is the yahrzeit of the AriZal whose teachings reflect the revelations of Torah’s inner secrets which will come in the Messianic Age. The AriZal taught that “in these later generations, it is a mitzvah to reveal this wisdom (Pnimiyus HaTorah).” This is accomplished through the “spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus which will, as the Baal Shem Tov taught, hasten Mashiach’s coming.