May 18, 2024
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Shabbos Chazon: How Shabbos Helps Us Relate to the Loss of the Beis Hamikdash

One of my daughters went to a sleepaway camp for the first time this summer. The camp’s policy is that the campers can only call home after a full week in camp. Why? All the girls have a great time in camp, but some get more homesick than others, and phone calls early on can pull at the heartstrings! So, the camp keeps them very busy—and distracted—and then, after the first week, limits phone calls to select hours a few times during the week.

In a small way, the reason for the camp’s policy may relate to emotions which we are experiencing during the current Nine Days regarding the loss of the Beis Hamikdash. While we can experience exciting full lives, we can also feel inner pangs of longing for … home. Let me explain further…

This Shabbos is called “Shabbos Chazon,” and this coming week will be Tisha B’Av. Personally, I find it hard to relate to Tisha B’Av, as I never experienced a Beis Hamikdash which would enable me to comprehend its loss. Of course, visiting the Kosel in Yerushalayim helps, but this isn’t possible for many people, and it only can provide a sense of the physical loss.

But I may have found a way to relate to the spiritual loss—in our weekly activity! Rav Wolbe explains that the Beis Hamikdash was not just a magnificent edifice; it was home to the presence of Hashem. On Tisha B’Av, we don’t mourn for the structure of the Beis Hamikdash, but rather for the loss of the presence of Hashem which existed within the Beis Hamikdash. That presence we so yearn for is felt each week, when we experience … Shabbos!

Did you ever wonder why people on Motzei Shabbos have an urge to go out and do something, like going to a pizza store or indulging in an entertaining activity? Every Shabbos, we receive a neshama yeseira (extra soul). The neshama yeseira gives us the ability to sense the presence of Hashem in our lives. At the conclusion of Shabbos, the neshama yeseira departs, leaving a void—a feeling of emptiness that we seek to fill. We may think that eating pizza will help, but the void remains. When we now think about Tisha B’Av and losing the Beis Hamikdash, perhaps, we can think about our feeling of emptiness on Motzei Shabbos. It’s a start…

In a few places, the Torah juxtaposes the mitzvah of Shabbos with the mitzvah of building the Mishkan (the temporary Tabernacle which preceded the building of the Beis Hamikdash). Rashi explains that the Torah is teaching that one may not build the Mishkan on Shabbos, as Shabbos supersedes the building of the Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash. The simple reason is that Shabbos is a greater mitzvah! However, Rabbi Itzele Volozhiner provides a deeper reason: The Mishkan represents the presence of Hashem, and every Shabbos, Hashem’s presence comes down to us. On Shabbos, we are entrusted with a neshama yeseira to feel the heightened sense of Hashem’s presence. Therefore, there is no need to build the Mishkan on Shabbos.

The Tiferes Shlomo notes that we can also more tangibly sense the presence of Hashem on Shabbos Chazon. The mourning halachos regarding the Nine Days are lifted on Shabbos, and one should, therefore, eat meat, drink wine and wear freshly laundered clothing on Shabbos. Even showering in hot water on Friday is permitted, according to many poskim. Shabbos gives us a certain respite from the feelings of loss of the Beis Hamikdash, since we are united with Hashem on Shabbos.

The Gemara relates that Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi was once reading Kinnos from a scroll. When he read the words, “ … hishlich mishamayim eretz—Hashem cast down from heaven to earth,” the scroll actually rolled off the table and hit the floor. Rebbi took this as a sign from Hashem. The contrast of being on top to being on the floor gives us the ability to recognize and appreciate the level klal Yisrael once achieved, but unfortunately lost. We can feel this contrast the most when Shabbos enters … and Shabbos leaves.

This Shabbos is called “Chazon,” since it gives us vision. Shabbos gives us the true vision of the state of mind which klal Yisrael should have regarding our connection to Hashem, which existed at the time of the Batei Mikdash and which exists on a similar level on Shabbos. Contemplating this connection can help us appreciate what we lost in the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and yearn for its return.

May we merit to live with a connection to Hashem throughout all of our days.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

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