Parshat Devarim Shabbat Chazon - 5759
As we approach the Nine Days and Tishah BAv, the saddest day on the Hebrew Calendar, which commemorates the destruction of both of the Holy Temples of the Jewish People, Shabbat Chazon permanently links in our minds Moshe Rabbeinu, Yeshayahu HaNavi and Yirmiyahu HaNavi.
For our Calendar connects the beginning of Moshes farewell oration to the Jewish People, a message of warning and hope, from one to whom all of Jewish History till the end of time would soon be shown, in which he pictures terrible disasters befalling the Jewish People, followed by their repentance, with the powerful words of reproof of Yeshayahu who foresaw in the Haftorah of "Chazon" the Destruction of the First Temple, but also prophesies great Redemption, in the week of the final count-down to destruction that was witnessed by Yirmiyahu HaNavi.
Each included the word "Eichah," "How could it be?" in their messages. Moshe said "How could it be that I must bear alone all your troubles?" ((Devarim 1:12); Yeshayahu said, "How could it be that the faithful city has become a harlot?" (Yeshayahu 1:21); Yirmiyahu, the eye-witness to the destruction, begins the Megillah called "Eichah," indicating that that is its central theme with "How could it be that the city once so full, now sits lonely and isolated?" (Eichah 1:1), "How could it be that Hashem in His anger covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud, and cast down to earth the beauty of Israel?" (Eichah 2:1), and "How could it be that gold has become dim - that the finest gold has changed?" (Eichah 4:1)
Moshe and Yeshayahu call as witnesses Heaven and Earth. Moshe says, "Give ear, O Heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O Earth, the words of my mouth." (Devarim 32:1) And Yeshayahu says "Hear O Heavens, and give ear, O Earth, for the L-rd has spoken." (Yeshayahu 1:2)
What a fine line the Prophet must walk! According to one opinion, it was because of the anger that Moshe displayed when he said "Listen, you rebels, will I be able to extract water from this rock?" that Moshe was denied permission to enter the Land of Israel. Yeshayahu was killed by the nailer-executioners of the evil king Menashe when they reached his mouth, because Yeshayahu had uttered the unauthorized attack against the Jewish People, "And I said, Woe unto me, for I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a People of unclean lips !" (Yeshayahu 6:5)
The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni lists numerous comparisons between Moshe and Yirmiyahu. "This one prophesied for forty years and this one prophesied for forty years, ..., this one was opposed by members of his own tribe and this one was opposed by members of his own tribe, this one was thrown into a river and this one was thrown into a dungeon, this one was saved by a handmaiden and this one by a servant, this one refused initially to prophecy and this one refused initially to prophecy." Two men akin in mind and spirit!
Each of the three prophesied of or witnessed destruction, but also prophesied of national Repentance and Redemption. Moshe says "And you shall return to the L-rd your G-d and listen to His voice with regard to all that I am commanding you today, with all your heart and all your soul. And Hashem will return your captivity and He will have mercy on you; and He will return and gather you from among all the nations into which He had dispersed you." (Devarim 30:2-3)
Yeshayahu says, "Be comforted, be comforted, my People, says the L-rd. Speak to the heart of Yerushalayim and call to it that her war service is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the L-rds Hand double for all her sins." (Yeshayahu 40:1)
Yirmiyahu pleads at the end of his Megillah, "Turn us to You, O L-rd, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old..." (Eichah 5:21)
Three indescribably great individuals who fulfilled their missions of warning and lamentation and of great promise for the future.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU