Each Shabbat is the elevation and completion of all our accomplishments of that week. This is one of the primary teachings of the Safed Kabbalists, as exemplified by the Arizal, the anniversary of whose passing occurs on hei Av. Furthermore, it is the source for all the divine blessings of the week that will follow. Because Shabbat affects each day of our lives, before each Shabbat it is important to review what events transpired in the last week, and to set out our expectations from the coming week, including both major and minor events and developments.

These contemplations help us focus our strengths in the most effective way to get the most benefit from Shabbat. The Shelah extends this Kabbalistic concept to include the weekly Torah portion, explaining that the Torah in its infinitude is also connected to our weekly happenings. The more we study the weekly portion, the more we will discover how the Torah graces us with lessons and instructions how to relate, maximize and overcome any obstacles in our path, allowing us to serve G‑d fully.

In light of the above, it is easy to understand why Shabbats that have important events connected to them usually have their own unique names. The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called "Shabbat Teshuva". The Shabbat preceding each Rosh Chodesh (first day of the month) is called "Shabbat Mevorchim". Each Jew is given a subtle vision of the Third Temple on this Shabbat…

The Shabbat between Rosh Chodesh Av and the 9th of Av, our annual mourning period of the destruction of the two Holy Temples, is called "Shabbat Chazon". The word "chazon", Hebrew for "prophetic vision" is the first word of the Haftorah read on this Shabbat. This Haftorah contains stern admonishments of the prophet Isaiah to the Jewish people to repent.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev, one of the great Chassidic masters and fabled as the defender of the Jewish people in the Heavenly Court , revealed another meaning of Shabbat Chazon: he taught that each Jew is given a subtle vision of the Third Temple on this Shabbat. This vision is meant to arouse in us the desire to finally have the Third Temple, similar to a child who, having been shown a gift he will receive, strives to improve his behavior. "Enough of this exile," we are meant to say and feel. "We want the Temple, so we can finally serve G‑d in the best way, the way that G‑d originally requested of us." Every descent is for the sake of the ascent that will follow…

Every descent is for the sake of the ascent that will follow. The tragic events we annually mourn for at this time of year are for the purpose of the great elevation that will come from them, the rebuilding of the final and everlasting Temple. Nothing can stand in the way of our will. If we truly want something, we will get it.

The Shelah writes that this is the reason that the same three Torah portions - Matot, Masei and Devarim are always read during this time. Our strong leaders (Rashei Hamatot), and this interminable exile (Masei, literally "journeys") will lead us to "G‑d, the Lord of your fathers, will make you 1000 times what you are and bless you as He has promised" (Deut. 1:11) - a blessing without limits. It's not surprising that this verse is always read on Shabbat Chazon. May the 9th of Av be transformed into a holiday! The teachings of the Arizal prepare the world for the Redemption…

Rabbi Yitzchok Ginsburgh explained why the anniversary of the passing of the Arizal, on the 5th of Av, is also during this mourning period; in fact, it is the exact midpoint of the Nine Days of most severe mourning. The teachings of the Arizal prepare the world for the Redemption. On the anniversary of the passing of a tzadik, all of his life's accomplishments are once again revealed in the world but on a higher level, as they are united with all that was accomplished since then as a result of his good works. This revelation is the most potent instrument in our hands to overcome the mourning and to join in bringing the redemption.

Most of the Arizal's teachings were transmitted to us via his foremost student, Rabbi Chaim Vital. He explained the verse: "G‑d, our Lord, spoke to us at Horeb, saying, 'long enough' [in Hebrew, 'rav lachem'] have you sat at this mountain". (Deut. 1:6) "Rav lachem" can also be translated as "you have become great", meaning: Since you have merited to receive the Torah straight from G‑d, you have now become great and powerful. Why continue to sit here? Turn and take your journey! Go use the strengths you were given and conquer the world. Make the world a place where G‑d is revealed.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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