Parshas Devarim, Shabbos Chazon
Mourning and Redemption
We read in this week’s Haftorah , “חזון ישעיהו בן אמוץ אשר חזה על יהודה וירושלים – The vision of Yeshayahu (Isaiah) the son of Amotz which he saw pertaining to Yehudah and Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).” Commentators  teach us that the word “חזון” is the acronym of “חציה זעם וחציה נחמה – half rage and half solace.” What does this acronym teach us?
The Gemara reveals  that the entire book of Yeshayahu only consists of consolations. This too needs to be clarified; the very beginning of the book, which we read this week, deals with havoc and destruction – not to mention the calamities described in other places throughout the book. The Maharsha , troubled by this fact, explains the Gemara’s intent is that the majority of the book deals with condolence.
Another passage in the Gemara states , “המתאבל על ירושלם זוכה ורואה בנחמתה – whoever mourns the destruction of Yerushalayim, merits in seeing its consolation. The words, “זוכה – merits,” and “ורואה – and sees,” are both written in present tense. Seemingly they should have been rendered in future tense (“וזכה – he will merit” and “ןוראה – and he will see”).
We can perhaps comprehend the terminology of our Rabbis as follows.
After the destruction of the Temple, the first few generations had a valid reason to mourn. The wounds were still fresh. They were scattered, destitute, and they still had at least a vague recollection of better days. But hundreds of years after the destruction of the Temple, was there still a need to weep? Do not our Sages clearly say  that it is forbidden to mourn excessively for a dead person?
True, there were many times throughout the past two thousand years when the Jewish people had good cause to grieve. There is hardly any country in Europe, Africa or Asia that can claim to be completely innocent of harming their Jewish residents. Those who have observed the way many Holocaust survivors reflect upon Tish’a B’Av can recognize how these survivors relate to the Kinnos with their personal experiences. Nonetheless, with fewer survivors extant, and as the memory of the Holocaust fades in our collective consciousness, we Jews seem to have found peace, tranquillity and prosperity, to a large degree, here in the United States in our time. This poses the question of how can an American Jew find a meaningful message in today’s observance of Tisha’a b’Av while living in such comfort?
We can perhaps understand that a person who reads the words of the prophets, as well as the words of our holy sages, and internalizes them to the extent that he truly feels the pain and torment expressed therein, can actually mourn the destruction of the Temple even thousands of years later.
The Yerushalmy  states that every year the Temple is not rebuilt, it is as if it was destroyed that very year. The Chasam Sofer  explains that without the Temple our spiritual lack is so great that it is as if the Temple was standing in our time, just last year and was destroyed this very year. Additionally the effect of the Tisha B’av experience is cumulative. That is to say that this year (5778/2018), it is as if we have suffered two thousand destructions of our Temple . We see from the words of the Chasam Sofer that he understood the great calamity of the destruction even in his time. For such a person it is as if the Temple is being destroyed at the present moment.
This then can also be the intent of the Rabbis in saying “זוכה – merits” and “ורואה – sees” (both in present tense). Just as a person in our time feels the devastation vicariously through the words of the prophets and sages as explained, he also sees in the words of prophets the salvation and the elation of the final redemption. The mere fact that we see someone’s broken spirit by his mourning proves to us that he also sees the redemption as described by prophecy. It is therefore comforting to him at the present moment as if he is actually “זוכה ורואה – presently experiencing the consolation of the rebirth of Zion.”
This principle can perhaps be illustrated through the words of the Gemara … after the destruction of the second Temple, Rabban Gamliel, R’ Elazar Ben Azaryiah, R’ Yehoshua and R’ Akivah, were approaching Yerushalayim. When they reached Mount Scopus, they saw the city of Yerushalayim in ruins. They rent their garments. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from what was once the Holy of Holies, and they began to weep; but R’ Akivah smiled contentedly. It seems at first as if R’ Akivah’s expression was grossly inappropriate.
Let me interject with an explanation given by Reb Ahron II of Karlin . He explains what motivated R’ Akivah’s peculiar response. He says that R’ Akivah pondered the significance of a fox coming out of the Holy of Holies – thinking, why a fox of all animals? R’ Akivah understood the nature of a fox – she constantly looks over her shoulder to see what is behind her , so, he understood that here too, he must look beneath the surface to understand the deeper meaning of this devastatingly tragic event.
The Gemara continues, “They (Rabban Gamliel, R’ Elazar Ben Azaryiah and R’ Yehoshua) inquired of him (R’ Akivah), what is the reason for his seemingly inappropriate reaction? He replied, ‘What is the reason you are all weeping?” They said to him, “A place about which it is written , ‘The non-Kohen who approaches should be put to death – and we witness foxes freely roaming about there. Is it not appropriate that we should weep?”
R’ Akivah then explained to them that this actually was the reason that he was smiling. He said, “cripture writes , ‘ואעידה לי עדים נאמנים את אוריה הכהן ואת זכריהו בן יברכיהו – I will summon trustworthy witnesses to testify for me, Uriah the Kohen and Zechariah the son of Yeverechiahu.” What is this verse implying?
Uriah lived during the era of the first Temple, whereas Zechariah lived during the second Temple era. If so, what commonality is there between Uriah and Zechariah?
R’ Akivah continues, “the reason they are mentioned together is because by doing so, Scripture made the prophecy of Zechariah dependent upon the prophecy of Uriah. In the prophecy of Uriah it is written  ‘בגללכם ציון שדה תחרש – therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field.’ In the prophecy of Zechariah it states , ‘ישבו זקנים וזקנות ברחובות ירושלים – old men and old women will yet sit in the streets of Yerushalayim.’ As long as the prophecy of Uriah had not been fulfilled I feared that perhaps Zechariah’s prophecy might likewise not be fulfilled. Now that we saw with our own eyes the prophecy of Uriah has been fulfilled it is obvious that the prophecy of Zechariah will be fulfilled.”
The colleagues of R’ Akivah thereupon said “Akivah, you have comforted us.”
We see from this Gemara that R’ Akivah, who saw the ruins of the Temple with his own eyes, believed with such faithfulness the words of the prophets regarding the imminent redemption, that although he was greatly pained, he was also simultaneously uplifted by his steadfast belief in the upcoming redemption.
We can now understand the acronym with which we began, from the Haftorah for Shabbos Chazon, “זעם וחציה נחמה – half rage and half solace,” as well as the sage’s words that the entire book is condolences for the fact that it is “חציה זעם – half rage”, “וחציה נחמה – and half destruction,” is in itself a true condolence; because it acts as a verification of the glad tidings also contained in the book of Isaiah. May we merit in our days the full Nechama with the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of G-d’s glory.
Rabbi Dovid Sochet
 Isaiah 1:1
 See Ahavas Yehonasan, Rabbi Yehonasan Eibschitz 1690-1764.
 Tractate Bava Basra 14B
 Rabbi Shmuel Eidels 1555 – 1631
 Tractate Taanis
 Tractate Brachos 58B
 Tractate Yuma 1:1
 Reb Moshe Sofer (1762–1839), see Drashos Chasam Sofer pg. 334.
 The second temple was destroyed in the year 3828/18 A.C.E.
 Tractate Makkos 24A,B
 See Rashi Song of Songs 2:15
 Numbers 1:51
 Isaiah 8:2
 Micha 3:13
 Zechariah 8:4