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Suit Yourself

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, but this one, too, was ruined by the child’s carelessness. So the father made a third suit. This time, however, he withheld it from his son.

Occasionally, in special and opportune times, he would show the suit to the child, explaining that when the child will learn to appreciate and properly care for the suit, it will be given to him. His intention was to induce the child to improve his behavior, until it will gradually become second nature to him—at which time he will be worthy of his father’s gift.

On the ninth day of the month of Av (Tishah B’Av) we fast and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Both the First Temple (833–423 BCE) and the Second Temple (353 BCE–69 CE) were destroyed on this date. The Shabbat preceding the fast day is called the "Shabbat of Vision," for on this Shabbat we read a chapter from the Prophets entitled "The Vision of Isaiah."

But there is also a deeper significance to the name Shabbat of Vision, as expressed by Chassidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev with the above metaphor.

On the Shabbat of Vision, says Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, every one of us is granted a vision of the third and final Temple—a vision that, to paraphrase the Talmud, "though we ourselves do not see, our souls see." This vision evokes a profound response in us, even if we are not consciously aware of the cause of our sudden inspiration.

Twice we were given the gift of a Divine dwelling in our midst. Twice we failed to prove worthy of this gift and the Divine presence was banished from our lives.

So G-d built us a third temple. Unlike its two predecessors, which were of human construction and therefore subject to debasement by man’s misdeeds, the Third Temple is as eternal and invincible as its Architect.  But G-d has withheld this "third suit of clothes" from us, confining its reality to a higher, heavenly sphere, beyond the sight and experience of our earthly selves.

Each year, on the Shabbat of Vision, G-d shows us the Third Temple. Our souls behold a vision of a world at peace with itself and its Creator, a world suffused with the knowledge and awareness of G-d, a world that has realized its Divine potential for goodness and perfection. It is a vision of the Third Temple in heaven—in its spiritual and elusive state—like the third set of clothes in the analogy, which the child sees but cannot have. But it is also a vision with a promise: a vision of a heavenly temple poised to descend to earth, a vision that inspires us to correct our behavior and hasten the day when the spiritual Temple becomes tactual reality.

Through these repeated visions, living in the Divine presence becomes more and more second nature to us, progressively elevating us to the state of worthiness to experience the Divine in our daily lives.

 

 


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