The Shabbat of Vision – ‘Shabbat Chazon’.

We live in a time when we can have virtually unlimited access to vast resources of information in devices as small as our watches.

Astoundingly, we most often harness this capability to play games and look at “memes” and cartoons.  This point struck home when I went to a scheduled meeting with a young Jewish professional and discovered I had interrupted him while he was taking an online test to determine what type of pizza he was!

Being cognizant of the workings of our inner selves, our strengths, and areas of struggle would seem to be a worthwhile exercise.  There are well-known tests used to analyze the individual’s make-up and personality.

For instance, the Myers–Briggs test, which attempts to group and categorize people based on their characteristics and personality.  Any Harry Potter fan will attest to the importance of knowing your tribe, how “your house” can determine and shape your life.  There are even people who look to the weekly horoscope, to guide their behaviours and to feel like they are part of a group, connected to others born in the same month as them.

There are studies suggesting the fallacies in those modes of character definition – some may hold some validity, but are inherently flawed, while others are simply nonsense. Yet regardless of their need or importance, the fact they exist and have a following, demonstrates the human need for defining ourselves, and our “group type”.

Defining ourselves, it turns out can be quite complex.

When the alarm rings early in the morning there is the “you” that wants to get up and go to work, and there is the “you” that wants to sleep in.

Who is the real you?

Is it the part of you seeking instant gratification, or the part of you that can see the bigger picture and sacrifice comfort for long term benefit?

When we laugh at a joke made at someone’s expense, or act rashly and without good judgment, where is our true self?

When we beat ourselves up over embarrassing or regrettable events that probably went unnoticed, we might tell ourselves:  “that wasn’t me”.

Who, then, was it?

Who is the real “You”?

It is clear that we are made up of two “selves”, an essential, higher self and an external self.  The external self may act cruelly, or foolishly, might be rash and act without using the best judgment.  Our essential self, our “real”, most authentic self, would never knowingly hurt someone else.  However noble our intentions might be, often it lays dormant in our subconscious.  We may even lose sight of the deeper, more authentic self altogether.

Shabbat of Vision. credit: Chabad.org

Imagine if we had the vision and the perception to view ourselves through the lens of our true self.  Imagine if everyone else were able to perceive us in this way.  Seeing ourselves the way our real self sees ourselves. We might stop taking tests to figure out what kind of pizza we are!  Once our self-imposed and self-limiting views were changed, we could have an undistorted view of our own true potential, how important we are to the world, and the impact we are capable of making!  Perhaps if we could see it, we could tap into it, and bring that inner self out of obscurity and into action.

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of vision, named for the Haftara of Isaiah’s vision of the Temple’s of destruction.

Chassidut attributes a deeper significance to this concept of “vision”, explaining that it refers to the vision we all can receive on this special Shabbat.  On this very day as we commemorate the destruction of the Temples, we are given the vision of the future redemption.

We are taught to not focus on the destruction in our lives, rather the glory that lies ahead.  The vision, therefore is not in some theoretical spiritual revelation, rather a true visualization of our genuine and sincere selves, perceiving our talents and capabilities for what they truly are and using them to help shape our lives.

Shabbat Chazon is about vision – seeing ourselves for who we truly can be, and not allowing ourselves to be defined a superimposed group, by society’s whims, or by the external self.

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Ari Rubin is the Rabbi of the Cairns Jewish Community and together with his wife run the Chabad centre for Jewish Life in FNQ -Far North Queensland a division of Chabad of RARA – Rural & Regional Australia.

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