Friday, September 18, 2020

What Really Matters


This Rosh Hashanah will be different than all others. 

Whether it be where (or if) we attend services, what we say, who we are with to celebrate (or who we’re not with), the holiday will not resemble what we usually expect.
  This begs the question: What really makes Rosh Hashanah?  What really matters?

In Jewish law, Rosh Hashanah is dependent on the date.
  If it’s 1 Tishrei, it’s Rosh Hashnah. That’s all that matters.  There are certain rules and observances for the day, but Rosh Hashanah is a function of the calendar.

If we dig a little more deeply, at the heart of Rosh Hashanah is that it marks the beginning of a new year.
  As such, it is a time to reflect upon how we want the New Year to be better than the last.  This year, that is pretty darn easy.

In preparing for this year’s High Holidays, I kept thinking about all that is missing.
  It’s true that there is a lot I’ll miss this year.  At the same time, we are the ones who decide what makes Rosh Hashanah in to the celebration of the New Year.  We can choose to focus on what we want the holiday to look like and notice what’s missing, or we can decide that we will focus on turning this Rosh Hashanah into an amazing inauguration of what, please God, will be an incredible year.

So what really matters?  Family, health, security, Torah, God…the list goes on, and each of us has our own.

I think there are a few items that have been found to matter most to people that make good goals for the coming year.

Rabbi Marc Angel, in a High Holiday message, discusses this season as ideal for searching for clarity.  He quotes some of the findings of Professor Raymond Moody, who has written extensively about near death experiences.  Whether you believe in the concept or not, Moody has found common elements in the experiences of his subjects.  They all tended to reach two conclusions: 

One must love others
             One should learn as much as possible

I think following these two essentials will put us on the path to appreciating what really matters most.  It’s simple (and alliterative: love and learn!  Our love for family friends, and plain, ordinary people along with a quest for knowledge (Jewish, general, all types) can provide us with the proper perspective to tackle whatever comes our way.

May the best of 5780 be the starting point for 5781. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Where is God? Ayeh M'kom K'vodo?

It is a question we often ask – especially in difficult or challenging times: Where is God?

It is a question we ask each and every Shabbat: Ayeh m’kom k’vodo? Where is the place of God’s glory?

The answer is simple.

Hashem is here, Hashem is there, Hashem is truly everywhere.

In all seriousness, what does it mean to seek the place where God’s glory can be found? Furthermore, think of the paradox of asking God to identify the place to find His glory. It is bad enough WE don’t know, but we make matters worse by drawing attention to our ignorance.

The question of ayeh m’kom k’vodo is typical of the complex relationship we have with God. We turn to God in times of need, but don’t recognize God when we get what we want. With regard to faith, it is something to have, but it is difficult to articulate. A number of years ago, I attended a meeting for 40 Orthodox rabbis in Orlando, Florida. One session was devoted to the rabbis in the room sitting in a circle, each weighing in with the greatest need facing their community. The issues ranged from trying to get more volunteers for committees, to increasing membership, to adding more meaning to Judaism. The last rabbi said, “I find it interesting that no one felt that God is an issue that warrants attention in the Modern Orthodox community.” I have been thinking about this idea ever since.

It is not just in our Modern Orthodox community where God has a tough time. The Pew Forum's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted in 2014 found that 63% of the US population is absolutely certain in their belief in God. Another 20% are fairly certain with 5% saying they just believe without the certainty. That’s 88% overall. For Protestants, the numbers are 66, 25, and 4 for 95% in total. Evangelicals were 88, 10, and 1 for 99%, and Catholics were 64, 27, and 5 for 96% in total.

How about the Jews? The percentage of those with absolute faith is 37%, while another 27% are fairly certain with 14% just believing. That’s just 78% in total, significantly less faithful than the average American and adherents of other religions.

Why is this so? What happened to the nation described as ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim, believers who are the children of believers? The issue was addressed by Rabbi Joseph Lookstein some 50 years ago in a sermon entitled “Looking for God in the Right Places.” It was “not intended to be a theological essay. Our concern is with a practical matter of faith.” The sermon is directed to the period in which it was delivered, but the sentiment is relevant today. Rabbi Lookstein stated:

The God of the philosophers will not do. He is too impersonal. Even the Ein-Sof, the ineffable deity of the mystics, cannot satisfy. He is too vague. Nor, dear young people, will Zen Buddhism or similar oriental cults resolve the anguish, the fright, and the despair of modern man…It is futile to look for God in the wrong places.”

 

As time goes by, there seem to be more and more wrong places. Rabbi Norman Lamm, in his Faith and Doubt, describes what he calls “excused doubt.” Today, more than ever, people do not believe as in the past, and Jewish law has responded by not holding people as accountable for lapses in faith as in earlier times.

 

In a similar vein, Dennis Prager notes that, nowadays, people are just not theologically, intellectually, and emotionally prepared to deal with all the unjust suffering in the world. He posits that, nowadays, maybe we’ve had it too good for too long.

 

Have the past six months of the Covid pandemic turned people more towards faith? The Pew Research Center studied this as well. The results were mixed. Some people have become more religious and others less so. Unsurprisingly, as with faith, Jews are less religiously awakened than other groups during these times.

Throughout the High Holiday liturgy, we loudly declare our belief in God, King of the Universe. We declare, “V’ata hu melech keil chai v’kayam – You, God, are the everlasting King!” We proclaim “Aneinu Answer us, Lord!” and call out to God to show us mercy and compassion. During this period, we don’t have a problem communicating our relationship with the divine. But what about the day after? Where is God in our lives then? Is God not at the very foundation of our lives? As committed Jews, we may not all behave exactly the same, but our Judaism all originates from God. How can we minimize or ignore our Divine connection? It is not alright for Judaism to be devoid of the Divine. We must find a way to make relevant our relationship with God. It is essential to our living as engaged Modern Orthodox Jews.

During the High Holidays, it is appropriate to pay attention when we ask the question: Ayeh m’kom k’vodo - Where is God’s presence found? We should begin the New Year by exploring what God means to each of us. Ayeh m’kom k’vodo?  Where is the place of God’s glory? Where in complex times do our lives reflect an awareness of the Divine?


God is actually right in front of us in three ways.

 

1)  We find God within the Jewish people. We are evidence of God’s existence.


Charles Murray is the sociologist who wrote the oft-quoted and respected book, “The Bell Curve.” Four years ago, in an article in Commentary Magazine entitled, “The Jewish Genius,” Mr. Murray concludes that there is only one way to possibly explain the exceptionalism of the Jews: “They are God’s chosen people.”


Murray’s conclusion is shared by other writers and thinkers throughout history. Mark Twain and John Adams are but two of those who saw Divine Providence in our survival as a nation. Charles Murray is not Jewish! The others aren’t Jewish. Unfortunately, Jews don’t talk this way! We don’t think that way anymore. It is considered too “parochial” and “particularistic.”


Our problem is that we know we are Jewish; we just aren’t sure what being Jewish means to our faith in God. The late Shlomo Carlebach, reflecting on his years of visiting students on college campuses around the world, recounted:

 

I ask students what they are. If someone says, “I’m a Catholic,” I know that he’s a Catholic. If they say, “I’m a Protestant,” I know that she’s a Protestant. If they say, “I’m just a human being,” I know that’s a Jew.

 

We need to acknowledge what others recognize in us: God. Our very identification as Jews attests to God’s presence. Our faith is expressed by our very existence. WE are m’kom k’vodo, proof of God’s presence.

 

2)  Ayeh m’kom k’vodo is not a question. It is a statement. We find God in our struggle with the questions of faith.

 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks notes that faith in God is strengthened through questioning and rigorous debate. There are no shortcuts, and it is good to be challenged. He describes leaving university for study in a rabbinical seminary in Israel. The highest form of praise there was, “du fregst a gutte kasha – you’re asking a good question.” The best thing for our faith is to ask and confront.

 

Rabbi Sacks quotes American playwright Wilson Mizner: “I respect faith. But doubt is what gets you an education.” He then comments:

 

To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer…Far from faith excluding questions, questions testify to faith – that the world is not random, life is not chance.

 

Ayeh, the very act of asking and struggling to find God, is m’kom k’vodo, where God is found.

 

God is in us, and God is to be found within our struggle with our doubts to understand.

 

3)  God is found in connecting with other people.

 

The Talmud (Shabbat 127a) states:

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב גדולה הכנסת אורחין מהקבלת פני שכינה

Welcoming guests is more important that communing with the Divine. We learn this from Avraham, who interrupted talking to God to greet the angels who came to visit him.


Responding to the needs of others supersedes one’s Divine service.


The transformative event in Martin Buber’s life was a knock at the door. He had been upstairs in his room fully engaged in a deeply religious moment, when there was a knock at his front door downstairs. He was taken out of his spiritual reverie and went down to see who was at the door. It was a young man who had been a student and a friend, and who had come specifically to speak with him.

 

Buber was polite with the young man, even friendly, but he was also hoping to soon get back to his meditations. The two spoke for a short time and then the young man left. Buber never saw him again because he died shortly thereafter in World War I. Later, Buber learned from a mutual friend that the young man had come to him that day in need of basic affirmation, had come looking for guidance. He had not recognized the young man's need at the time because he had been concerned to get back upstairs to his prayers and meditation. He had been cordial, but he had not been fully present. That's when Buber realized how potentially artificial the mystical high can be.

 

This story highlights the difference between a God experience and being in a relationship with God. Having a God experience is, at its core, all about you. It is selfish. Being in a relationship with God, like being in a relationship with a person, comes with responsibilities. What is a responsibility? It comes from a combination of the words able and respond. When we think about God, if it doesn't open us up to hearing the call to duty, if it doesn't increase one's ability to respond, it is having an experience, but it is not encountering God in a real relationship.

 

This is how Judaism expects us to make God a real part of our lives. A relationship with God is as much, if not more, about increasing love and sensitivity towards others than it is about the spiritual experience – as lovely as it is. Rabbi Lookstein concludes his sermon with this thought:

 

Is it not strange that our search for God ends with man? God is king, but his throne is in our hearts…A paraphrase of [R.] Yehuda Halevi seems to sum up our thought:

I have sought Thy nearness;

With all my heart I call Thee,

But going out to meet Thee

I found You dwelling in me

 

As we affirm God as ruler of the world during the High Holidays, we must also embrace that God must be prevalent and pertinent in our religious lives. The core relationship with God need not be on a high mountaintop, poring over the great truths of the universe. We have a very accessible relationship with God.

 

We can find God when we fully appreciate who we are as the Jewish people.

 

We find God as we struggle with the questions of faith.

 

And we find God when we recognize the supreme value in responding to others.

           

If we are successful, we will have invited God to play a role in our religious identities. We will have shown that God is a very real and relevant force in our lives all the time in the same way we proclaim throughout our liturgy. Maybe we’ll even increase the Jewish faith numbers in the next Pew poll. And when we say the Kedusha, we will have a new, deeper understanding of the question of ayeh m’kim k’vodo: Hinei m’kom k’vodo! Right here in front of us, as part of our lives in the real world, rests the glory of the Living God.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Elul Acronym You Never Heard Of



We all know of an E-L-U-L acronym, a Biblical verse that has words beginning with א-ל-ו-ל that can teach lessons as we utilize Elul as a month of preparation for the High Holidays.

The most famous one is: ני לדודי ודודי ליא– I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me. (Shir Hashirim 6:3)  Elul is a time for recapturing a close, loving relationship with God.

A lesser known acronym is: יש לרעהו ומתנות לאביוניםא– One man (gives a gift) to another and charity for the poor. (Esther 9:22)   While the verse speaks about the obligations of Purim, the verse teaches us the importance of establishing and strengthening giving and generous relationships with others. Our High Holiday preparations must focus on people and not just on God.

Here’s one I bet nobody has heard of.  (I only encountered it a few years ago.) 

In connection with the cities of refuge set aside for those who kill unintentionally, the Torah teaches (Shemot 21:13):

וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא צָדָה וְהָאֱ-לֹהִים אִנָּה לְיָדוֹ וְשַׂמְתִּי לְךָ מָקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יָנוּס שָׁמָּה׃

If the person did not kill by design, but it came about by an act of God, I will assign you a place to which he can flee.

Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal, notes that the words in the middle of this verse begin with the letters of Elul.  Accordingly, this verse provides guidance for how we should approach Elul.

What does fleeing to a city of refuge have to do with Elul?

The city of refuge is a place for someone who flees his victim's relatives.  The person goes to seek protection, shelter and safety because of their transgression.  Similarly, one who sins seeks refuge with God needs a place to find a way to repair the past and grow for the future.

The month of Elul is meant to serve as a reminder that we need to flee.  It is time to seek refuge from whatever mistakes we made as well as identify those areas we seek to improve.  We need a place to go to work all this out.  That place is the month of Elul.

In addition to the lofty themes of Elul that inspire us, the month is also a time to confront some of the uncomfortable realities of the past year.  Even the righteous among us can do better.  Elul is a time for creative disequilibrium, where we can use our discomfort to seek out a path towards improvement and growth.

We know all too well from disequilibrium during these past months.  Now, it’s time to get creative.  Elul is a refuge, a time to find security and stability, and a time to find new ways to reconnect with our own souls, with God, and with each other.

Friday, August 14, 2020

You Are What You Eat : On Jews & Food

 

"You are what you eat."  

It’s a very well-known saying, but where does it come from?  Let’s go to the internet.

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante (1826):
"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es - Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

In an 1863 essay entitled Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism, 1863, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote:
"Der Mensch ist, was er ißt - man is what he eats.”

The actual phrase didn't emerge in English until later.  In the 1920s and 30s, the nutritionist Victor Lindlahr, who was a strong believer in the idea that food controls health, developed the “Catabolic Diet.”  An advertisement for the program appearing in a 1923 edition of the Bridgeport Telegraph mentioned "Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs.  You are what you eat."  In 1942, Lindlahr published You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health with Diet, and a new popular saying was born!

A recent study has proven “you are what you eat” to be scientifically accurate.

Researchers from the University of Utah collected discarded hair from barbers and hair salons from 65 cities across the United States.  From the chemical traces in the cuttings the scientists found that American diets are dominated by animal-derived protein like meat and dairy.  This type of hair analysis could be a useful tool to assess a community's dietary patterns and health risks, the researchers said.

Our Jewish relationship with food is a recurring theme in Parshat Re’eh.  The Torah reviews the types of animals and birds which are kosher as well as the prohibition against eating blood.  We are also introduced to the permissibility to eat meat (Devarim 12:20):

כִּי־יַרְחִיב ה' אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ אֶת־גְּבוּלְךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר־לָךְ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֹכְלָה בָשָׂר כִּי־תְאַוֶּה נַפְשְׁךָ לֶאֱכֹל בָּשָׂר בְּכָל־אַוַּת נַפְשְׁךָ תֹּאכַל בָּשָׂר׃

When the Lord enlarges your territory, as He has promised you, and you say, “I shall eat some meat,” for you have the desire of your soul to eat meat, you may eat meat whenever you wish.

The commentators based on the Talmud note the juxtaposition of desire with the permission to eat meat.  Some note that this means eating eat (unless connected to a sacrifice or religious obligation) is less than ideal. 

Rabbi Shlomo Efraim Lunschitz, author of K’li Yakar, views the rules of slaughter as placing an impediment in the way of hassle-free meat consumption.  For the sake of self-discipline, it is far more appropriate for man not to eat meat.  Only if there is a strong desire for meat does the Torah permit it, and even this only after engaging in the necessary procedure of slaughter and then kashering.  Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote that the permission to eat meat “after all the desire of your soul” was a concealed reproach and an implied reprimand, and he wrote about a vegetarian ideal that can be found in the Jewish tradition.

We all know that Judaism and food go hand in hand.  In contemporary society, there is a huge industry and growing popularity for all kinds of foods – gourmet, organic, Beyond Beef, Impossible Burger, and more - let’s not forget sourdough!  Throughout the quarantine months, people have tried and mastered all kinds of recipes.  (“People,” not me.) 

The Torah reminds us that food is great and, within the laws of Kosher, there is much that is permitted and positive.  Our souls have a desire and need for physical sustenance.  At the same time, the Torah warns us to be aware of the power of our heart’s desire and that, when it comes to food and eating, we run the risk of overindulging – not just in a quantitative sense, but also that there is a soul to our desire, a spiritual side to our physical eating.

B’tayavon!  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Meira is in the East and We Remain in the West


What is it like to see one’s daughter off as she makes aliya?  Yesterday, I found out.

 

Our oldest, Meira, flew to Israel yesterday.  After the mandatory 14-day quarantine, she will join Garin Tzabar, a kibbutz-based program that supports lone soldiers.  She will be adopted by Kibbutz Yavneh, which will become her home away from home before and throughout her IDF service.

We are very proud as we get used to this new reality. 

Just think: We teach our children about Israel and encourage them to be Zionists.  And they listen!  Does it get any better than that?

Fifty-five years ago, Rabbi Norman Lamm gave a sermon devoted to Yom Ha’atzmaut.  He said aliya could not be just an ideal; it must be a principle that governs our behavior and conduct.  If we cannot move there, we can encourage and assist those who can.  Rabbi Lamm warned, though, that this was not enough.  “Such an approach may lead to the position of the two Zionists who express their Zionism by deciding that a third Zionist must go on aliya.”  

Rabbi Lamm suggested a more proactive approach.  Our children, he says, must be encouraged to go.  If not all of our children, then pick one and prepare them for the move.  Ensure that their Hebrew is excellent, help them choose a career that will be useful in Israel.

Well, Meira did go to Moshava for years and loved it…

As we observe Tisha B’Av, we will recount destruction.  I can’t help but incorporate the miracle of the State of Israel into the sadness of the day.  Tisha B’av post-1948 is a significantly different day even if the rituals remain the same.  This Tisha B’Av, I will be thinking about what it’s like to have a daughter who will, please God, be defending Israel and actively participating in its future.  Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Levi wrote,“Libi ba-mizrach va'anochi b'sof ma'arav - My heart is in the East, but I am in the far edges of the West.”   My heart – and our daughter – is in the east, and it’s the beginning of a whole new relationship with Israel.

I often describe myself as a “Wanna wanna.”  This means I want to want to be living in Israel.  I have strong desire to live in Israel, but I am just not ready.  At the same time, I like being reminded that Israel is where Jews belong.

Rabbi Doron Perez (Leading the Way, p. 48) records a story of a person who was visiting Israel and who came to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach to discuss the mitzvah of living in Israel.  He noted to Rabbi Auerbach that the topic seems to be quite complex.  Rabbi Auerbach responded to the man, “In truth, it does not really matter what kind of mitzvah it is, because one thing is clear; this is definitely the place that Hashem wants the Jewish people to live.”

Why aren’t we all there?  It’s a question with various and personal answers.

Maybe we can’t be there, but it’s not so bad to be made to feel a little guilty about it.

Or maybe just follow Meira...

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Vision of What?


 

What do you see?

This Shabbat, we read the Chazon Yishayahu, the vision of Isaiah.  What did he see?  What do we see?

The text is not very encouraging.  That is why we read it before Tisha B’Av, to make sure we get a taste of pur’anut, tragedy, in time for the fast day.  Even our religious activities are rejected if we lack the basic compassion for those in need.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev has a different take on the vision.  He explains that this Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon because on this day every Jew is granted a vision of the future Beit HaMikdash.

He illustrates this teaching with a parable.  A father once prepared a beautiful suit of clothes for his son.  But the child neglected his father’s gift, and soon the suit was in tatters.  The father gave the child a second suit of clothes; this one, too, was ruined by the child’s carelessness.  So, the father made a third suit.  This time, however, he withholds it from his son.  Every once in a while, on special occasions, he shows the suit to the child, explaining that when the child learns to appreciate and properly care for the gift, it will be given to him.  This encourages the child to improve his behavior, until it gradually becomes second nature to him - at which time he will be worthy of his father’s gift.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s vision is very different than Isaiah’s.  How are we to understand Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s positive and redemptive “vision” of Shabbat Chazon which stands in marked contrast to the vision of destruction found in the haftorah?  Which vision are we supposed to see?  

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, explains this “vision thing” in a most creative way.  (See The Chasidic Dimension, volume 4 based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 11-17.)  He weaves together Jewish law, Midrash, and mysticism to provide a glimpse into what we should see.

Jewish law states (Rambam Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 1:17) that it is forbidden to demolish even a small section of the Beit HaMikdash in a destructive manner.  It is certainly forbidden to destroy the entire Beit HaMikdash. (See Rambam – Sefer Ha-Mitzvot - Negative Commandment #65.)

According to the Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 30:9), God is bound, as it were, by the same commandments that He gave the Jewish people.

לפי שאין מדותיו של הקב"ה כמדת בשר ודם,מדת ב"ו מורה לאחרים לעשו' והוא אינו עושה כלום והקב"ה אינו כן אלא מה שהוא עושה הוא אומר לישראל לעשות ולשמור

God’s ways are different than those of flesh and blood.  Human beings instruct others to do something but don’t do it themselves. God is not like this. Rather, God does what He tells the Jews they must do.

Accordingly, how could God violate Jewish law and permit the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash?

Halakhah (Kesef Mishna, Beit Habechira 1:17) provides only one exception that permits destroying the Mikdash – or a shul for that matter.  One may only damage and destroy when the purpose is to rectify and repair the structure and to rebuild it in the same place.  Accordingly, the only justification for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash is in order to replace it with an even more splendid structure.  Thus we find the Midrash states (Yalkut Shimoni, Yirmiyahu #259) that the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash was conditional on God rebuilding it.  In fact, the Mordechai, a leading 13th century rabbinic scholar, writes (beginning of the 4th chapter of Masechet Megillah):

דההיא נתיצה בנין מיקרי

When damaging or destroying the Mikdash in a permissible fashion, the very act of destruction is, in fact, classified as building.

This leads to an astounding conclusion regarding the destruction of the Temples and the difficulties and tragedies in Jewish history which followed.  According to Rabbi Schneerson’s approach, the destruction of the second Temple is part of the construction of the third Temple.  When we pray for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash at the end of the amida prayer three times a day, we are not praying for a process to begin at some point in the future.  We are praying for the completion of a process that has already begun.  The destruction is part of the rebuilding process.  The exile is part of the redemption. 

This idea can help us understand Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s enigmatic description of the vision of Shabbat Chazon.  Glimpsing Isaiah’s vision of destruction is not contradictory to a vision of the third Temple.  Just as the Talmud teaches that Moshiach was born on Tisha B’Av, we can glimpse redemption even as we encounter pain, hatred, and exile before our eyes.  Shabbat Chazon is the time to catch a glimpse of the Third Temple – of the geulah even as we are very much anchored in the galut.  It is a time to realize that the destruction and hardships throughout history and today are paving the way for a glorious future.

Each of us has had a fair share of difficulty these past few months.  This year, in particular, gives us a new way to look at the Three Weeks, Nine Days, Shabbat Chazon, and Tisha B’Av.  We are immersed in the narrow straits of a terrible plague.  Nevertheless, we must still strive for a glimpse of the healing and a return to normal.  

What do we see?  It is not enough to only look at the here and now.
           
What should we also see?  In the spirit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, we should take notice of the possibilities.  Think of the positive things we see – the heroes fighting the pandemic, the chesed that is being performed, our ability to manage and thrive.

Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, the Piasetzner Rebbe, was Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto.  His sermons and teachings from that period were collected in the book Aish Kodesh.  The last entry in that book is from Shabbat Chazon 1944. In that drasha, Rav Shapira explains that Isaiah received a chazon, a vision, because the Jewish people had lost their vision.  He wrote: “We lost the vision of our true goals in life, and we lost our sight of the truth.”

 בְּאֵין חָזוֹן יִפָּרַע עָם           
             
King Solomon stated, “Without vision, the people will perish.” (Mishlei 29:18)

We cannot ignore the Temple’s destruction as we persevere through the difficulties and pain that are right in front of us.  At the same time, we have a chance to seek a glimpse of the Third Temple and for those sparks of light and redemption that exist all around us.

On Shabbat Chazon, through the vision of destruction, we can actually create a vision of the redemption. We hope it arrives soon and commit ourselves to act in ways that will make it a reality.