Opening our Eyes (Parshas Devarim-Shabbos Chazon)

by Shlomo Slatkin - Date: 2006-12-10 - Word Count: 648 Share This!

This Tisha B'Av, it will not be very hard to feel the pain. While many of us in former years may have had a challenging time connecting to calamities of years past, this time around it will be hard not to mourn for the destruction of our people. Why is it so hard to relate to the destruction of the Temple and our Land, to the Inquisition, to pogroms, even to the Holocaust. For those who are more in touch with their emotions it may be easier, but for the rest of us in this generation of ikv'sa d'Meshicha, on the heals of the Messianic era, we are as spiritually sensitive as the dead skin on a heal. What makes it so much more easier for us to be disturbed and outraged by the current battle by our enemies against us?

R Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, writes (Aish Kodesh, Shabbos Chazon 5704, his last recorded drasha, at the time of the mass deportations) in July of 1942 that seeing is believing. Rabbi Eliezer says in the Medrash (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 3:4) that of all the ten expressions for prophecy, chazon, or vision, is the most difficult. The Rebbe explains that we know first hand that one cannot compare hearing and speaking about pain and suffering to the actual witnessing of it. We have heard about the churban and we may have even cried but now it is so acute, it is right before our eyes and it can get no worse than this.

What is even more difficult about witnessing the pain is that we are so absorbed in what we see that we cannot even fathom that there is a higher purpose. He provides the example of a father who knows that surgery will be beneficial for his son, yet he cannot bare to be present and witness the incision. Although he knows that it is for his own well being, at that moment he can focus only on what he sees, and that is his son's pain.

Similarly, although all of our exiles have been for the benefit of the Jewish people, it is hard to see anything other than the utter tragedy they represent. This idea is first expressed when Hashem revealed to Moshe that he would redeem the Jewish people from Mitzrayim (Shemos 3-7), "I have indeed seen the affliction of My people that is in Egypt, and I have heard its outcry because of its taskmasters, for I have known of its sufferings." Why does Hashem tell Moshe that he knows about the sufferings if he had already informed that he saw them? The Rebbe explains that since Hashem had seen it, therefore he only knew of its sufferings, meaning that the pain was so acute that Hashem, so to speak, was unable to see anything but the suffering. Any benefit of the misery was not apparent. Yet, that very point of intense suffering was the beginning of salvation, for immediately following this statement, Hashem tells Moshe that He will redeem the Jewish people.

Perhaps we can derive some hope from these words. When we think about Tisha B'Av, I think we are often at a loss. What can we do? Will there ever be an end to all of this conflict? When we are able to reach this point of seeing the pain and feeling it inside ourselves to such an extent that there is no explanation, that it doesn't make sense. When we can cry out to Hashem from that place, we begin the path to our redemption.

This Shabbos Chazon, as we near Tisha B'Av, and witness before our eyes the war waged against our people, may Hashem truly see the compounded sufferings of the Jewish people and fulfill the prophecy at the conclusion of our Haftorah (Isaiah 1:27): "Tzion shall be redeemed with justice, and her returnees with righteousness."

Related Tags: israel, war, counseling, chassidus, torah, aish kodesh, piacetzner rebbe, tisha bav

Rabbi Slatkin is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor and a certified IMAGO Relationship Therapist in practice with Pastoral Counseling and Consultation Centers of Greater Washington, serving clients in the Baltimore metropolitan area. He works with couples and families and is available for lectures and seminars on the spiritual journey of relationships. Take advantage of the free happy marriage tips on our website at

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