Overview of the Weekly Reading

To be read on Shabbat Devarim
Shabbat Chazon

Torah: Deut. 1:1-3:22
Haftorah: Isaiah 1:1-27 (3rd of the Three Haftorahs of Affliction)

Devarim is the 1st Reading out of 11 in Deuteronomy and it contains 5972 letters, in 1548 words, in 105 verses

Overview: All of the Book of Devorim takes place in the last forty days of Moshe's life. He begins by  reviewing many of the Jews’ desert travels, wars and conquests, the appointing of judges, the spies’ sin and the nation’s subsequent punishment. G-d promises to help Yehoshua conquer in the Land of Israel as He helped Moshe conquer the lands of the Emorites and Bashan (the present day Golan) which were given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and part of Menashe.


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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This Shabbos that precedes the 24 ½ hour fast of the 9th of Av is called Shabbat Chazon"the Shabbos of Vision." In some cases as in this year, Shabbos itself is the 9th of Av, and the fast is pushed off till Sunday the 10th of Av. (It starts Saturday at sunset and concludes on Sunday at nightfall.). The 9th of Av is a day on which many tragic things happened to the Jewish people. In particular it is the calendar date that both of our holy temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

The name,"Shabbos of Vision," is taken from the first word of the Haftorah (an additional reading from the prophets that is read at the end of the Torah reading service). The Haftorah is either connected to the subject matter of the Torah portion, orin our case to the calendar. Chassidic tradition offers another reason. One of early Chassidic masters, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov, said that on this Shabbos every Jew is given a personal vision of the 3rd temple.

He explains this with an analogy:
A father sewed a beautiful suit for his young son. The son did not treat the suit gently and soon it was torn into pieces. Again the father made a suit and again the child treated it carelessly, tearing it into pieces. So the father made a third suit, but this time did not give it to the child, rather only showed it to him once in a while, telling him, when you behave better I will give it to you. The father’s purpose was to help the child, who with the anticipation of receiving the new garment would act in a proper way, his good behavior would become second nature to the child, and then he would deserve to receive the new suit of clothes.

Similarly for us, each year G-d shows each Jew a vision of the 3rd temple on this Shabbos. The hope is that also our anticipation of the rebuilding of the 3rd temple will help us behave in the best way, using our time to connect to G-d, study His Torah and fulfill his commandments and thereby hasten Mashiach's arrival. Belief in the coming of Mashiach, which includes his task of rebuilding the third temple, is the 12th of Judaism's Thirteen Principles of Faith.

We see an interesting connection to this idea in this week's Torah portion. The 8th verse says, "See, I have given before you the land, come and inherit the land."  The previous Sanz-Klausenberg Rebbe said we learn a very clear lesson from this verse about a Jewish person's faith in the coming of Moshiach. When Mashiach actually arrives--please G-d soon-- some people will get very excited when they hear the good news and tell themselves "Wow, it really is true, Mashiach is here!" Sadly these people are only demonstrating that their faith is small and weak. He or she was never really sure, always carrying a doubt whether Moshiach would actually come.

Then there are those who when they hear the news of Moshiach's arrival will be incredibly happy, singing and rejoicing, saying blessed be G-d that we have finally merited the promised days of Moshiach. Even these people are not at a high level; their great joy is not in G-d's salvation and how great G-d is. Rather, he or she is happy and relieved that they were among those saved, that they merited to live in such good times.

Who are the true faithful, the  people who deserve to be admired, who are on a genuine high spiritual level? They are those who even now are already happy and rejoicing,, already anticipating and praising G-d for the coming promised redemption. They are and always were certain that G-d would not disappoint us. As it says in Solomon's Song of Songs, "Kol Dodi dofek"[I already hear] my beloved's knock on the door [even before it happens]. I know the redemption is about to happen and G-d's righteousness will be revealed.

This is the meaning of the verse, "See, I have given before you the land." Even though the Jewish people have not yet entered the land, still you have to see it as though you have already received it! And even though they were still outside and had not yet fulfilled the latter part of the verse, "come and inherit the land", nevertheless, in the eyes of that wondrous generation that came from the desert where they ate the heavenly Manna and drank the water of Well of Miriam and were protected by the Clouds of Glory, their faith was so strong, it was as though they had received the land already. All from the power of G-d's promise.  So it should be for us, that even though Moshaich is still not here, that we are already happy and anticipating Moshiach's imminent arrival.

abbi Dov Ber of Radoshitz once stayed in a particular room of an inn. He asked the owner where the clock in the room came from. Just to humor him, the owner checked and found out that the clock had once belonged to the famous rebbe, the Chozeh, the seer of Lublin, Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchok Horowtitz. Rabbi Dov Ber was not surprised at all and explained, The Chozeh had great faith in the coming redemption. A normal clock progresses in a sad and mournful way, "another hour is gone, lost from our lives, closer the grave." But this clock proclaims: 'Another hour of the exile has gone by. You are now one hour closer to the coming of Moshiach and the Redemption...'                        

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


Specifically, for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists, and more,
click to Devarim

one sample:

The Zohar
Divine Encounter in Egypt

From the teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; translation and commentary by Shmuel-Simcha Treister, based on Metok MiDevash

Even though Israel were slaves and were exposed every day to all types of sorcery and similar wickedness designed to lead people astray, nonetheless they didn't alter their customs or stray from the path of holiness.

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