Rabbi Yaacov Haber's
for the Week
"Chazon Yeshayahu". A vision of Yeshayahu!
The Medrash [Shir Hashirim Rabbah Ch. 3]
taught that there are ten levels of prophecy. Sometimes prophecy
comes in a dream, sometimes as a feeling and sometimes as a
voice. Which kind of prophecy was the
harshest? Rabbi Eliezer says that a 'chazon'
prophecy, a vision, is the harshest of all. In such a prophecy, the
prophet not only heard the message; it was shown to him.
There is no comparison between hearing and seeing. Yeshayahu saw a vision of
the Churban, he
saw the long suffering of
golus and he saw
the pain of Yerushalayim. When we hear about the damage we are causing, it
is nowhere near as strong as when we see the damage. There is nothing like a
'chazon' to shake us to the core.
There were times in history when we heard
about churban, and there were times when we saw churban. People that went
through concentration camps, ghettos and
persecution during the Shoah saw. My generation,
growing up, only heard about the suffering and pain.
The Piasetzner Rebbe wrote the Eish Kodesh while living in the Warsaw
Ghetto. The Rebbe explained that actually living in the ghetto taught
everyone that the distances between hearing, seeing and experiencing are far
greater than anyone can imagine. In the years before the war, "when we
studied the passages about the great sufferings of the Destruction,
[as described] in the words of the Prophets and
the Rabbis, we thought that we had some concept of
what had transpired at the time, and on occasion we
even cried. But now we see that to hear about sufferings and
tragedies is quite a distance from seeing them and
certainly from personally experiencing and
"Chazon Yeshayahu," Yeshayahu saw the destruction. This was the
harshest form of prophecy.
Why was Yeshayahu given a vision? The Piasetzner explains that "Isaiah
received a vision because the Jewish people
lost their vision! We lost the vision of our true
goals in life, and we lost our sight of the truth. We lost our
sight of the suffering we were causing one another and we no longer
heard each other's cries. We did not hear Hashem
crying. We did not hear the cries of the orphans
and the widows. We did not hear our souls crying." (quoted and translated by
Rabbi Shalom Brodt).
I feel that today again we are having a "chazon", and it is a very painful
one indeed. We are seeing pictures of terror
victims, men women and children just like us, who
are suffering unspeakable horror. We are watching
massive assimilation take place in the greater community, and one spiritual
crisis after another within our own community.
Why the chazon? Why so harsh? We are receiving a vision because we lost
What should our vision be? Close your eyes and visualize what we, the Jewish
people, should look like. Education should be with warmth and love
for every child. Every child should be considered a gem, period.
There should be a desperate sense of importance
given to unity. We should think a hundred times
before doing or saying something which is divisive. We
should all be counted on for our honesty and integrity. Israel should
be the center of our lives - every other existence
should be considered b'dieved. When we lose these
basic visions we get a painful chazon. Let us resolve to
restore our vision of Torah and be granted by G-d a new vision of
Israel and the Jewish people at peace.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Spiritual Leader, Congregation Bais Torah, Monsey NY
Message or Fax (212) 656-1399
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"
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