This week's portion of Devarim starts off the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Five Books of Moses - the Old Testament. The portion begins with "These are the words which Moses spoke to all of Israel" and he begins to recount the places where the people rebelled against G-d's word. The commentators say that Moses began to "explain" the Torah by first translating it into seventy languages - the same number of languages as nations in the world at the time. We can learn from this the simple yet foundational message that the wisdom of the Torah is a light for all of humanity - all seventy nations of the world, not just the nation of Israel. All nations can benefit from the teachings of the Ten Commandments and messages of peace, unconditional love and certainty. We also see that Moses finally speaks to the children of Israel in the first person - after forty years in the desert. Instead of the text stating, "And G-d said to Moses", we read for most of Deuteronomy how Moses simply speaks his mind directly. We see the distinction between the first four books where G-d's words are transmitted "by" Moses and in the fifth book, they are G-d's words transmitted "through" Moses. One lesson we can learn here is that we can ultimately connect to the Torah on a personal and human level. The wisdom of the Torah is finally revealed and shared directly by Moses, a person, in this week's portion of Devarim and throughout Deuteronomy.
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon, or the Shabbat of Vision. It takes its name from the Haftorah portion which is always read immediately prior to the mournful fast on Tisha B'av. The Haftorah portion is the vision of Isaiah from the Book of Isaiah and recounts his mournful vision of the sins of the children of Israel - the underlying causes that ultimately result in the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av. We know that whenever there is darkness, there is an equal measure of Light available to us. The Light, however, on this Shabbat is concealed and provides us with a great opportunity reveal and connect to it. Kabbalist Rav Isaac Luria - the Ari, shared that the 9th of Av would be the day on which the Messiah would be born. Interestingly, there is also no Zohar commentary for the portion of Devarim - further indicating the concealment of Light. The destruction of the Temples on the 9th of Av and other calamities that befell the Jewish people on this day throughout history happen as a result of immoral behavior. We bring darkness and negativity into the world, today and throughout the generations, by treating people without dignity and respect and by having hatred for no reason. We have the gift of Shabbat Chazon to reflect upon our negative traits and to convert ego-driven selfish behavior into the desire to love each other and share. By taking the opportunity this week, during what is considered by many to be the "Black Sabbath", we can be kind to people for no reason and send love to those we hate. By converting our consciousness we can change the energy of destruction of the Temples on Tisha B'Av into the birth of the Messiah and the ultimate revelation of Light.