Shabbat Chazon: The Parable of 3 Suits

Why does Rabbi Levi Yitzchak liken the Beit Ha-Mikdash to garments - and not to a dwelling?

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The Shabbat before the Ninth of Av is called Shabbat Chazon (“Shabbat of Vision”). One reason is that this week’s haftorah (the selection from the prophets read after the Torah portion) relates a vision (chazon in Hebrew) seen by Yeshayahu:

“The vision of Yeshayahu the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem…” (Yeshayahu, 1:1).

Another reason for this unique name is explained by the Chassidic masters. On this Shabbat we are granted a vision of the Third Beit Ha-Mikdash. We may not see it with our physical eyes, but we can see it with the “inner vision” of our soul. This empowers us to break free of our present state of Galut (“exile”, spiritual displacement) and bring about the Redemption – Geulah.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains the meaning of the “Shabbat of Vision” with a parable of a father who had a precious suit sewn for his son. The son went to play while wearing this garment and tore it to shreds. The father had a second garment sewn for him, but the child ruined this one as well.

The father had yet a third garment made for his son. This time, however, he did not permit him to wear it. He only allowed him to look at it at appointed times, telling him that when he began to conduct himself properly he would allow him to wear it. When this behavior became the nature of his son, the father presented him with the garment and permitted him to wear it.

While the parable is clear, one might wonder: why does Rabbi Levi Yitzchak liken the Beit Ha-Mikdash to garments – and not to a dwelling?

Here’s the Rebbe’s explanation:

– A garment closely follows the proportions of its wearer, while a house is much larger than its inhabitant. The relationship of a garment to its wearer is thus much more precise than that of a house. This is why the parable refers to garments rather than houses: this means that not only does a person devote himself to G‑d in a general sense, but that all the particular aspects of a Jew become so attuned to G‑d’s will that he becomes incapable of ruining the “garment” he is given…

Based on the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshat Devarim, 5751. More on the topic: “Likkutei Sichot”, Vol. XXIX, pp. 18-25.

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