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What is the Vision? By Shmuel Sackett

2 Av, 5774/July 29, ‘14

This Shabbos is called “Chazon” which means vision and looking towards the future. It’s not a personal vision but a national one and based on that, I always ask myself the same question: Exactly what is the vision? What should we focus on? Where are we heading as a nation? Where should our direction be and what is our plan? For many years I received weak answers which is why, in my opinion, Tisha B’av is still alive and well.

I am convinced that we can avoid that miserable day. Just like during the days of Bayis Sheni, when Tisha B’av was simply a day on the calendar and not a day of national mourning, our present situation is not far away from that. We have the ability to DANCE on Tisha B’av yet we choose to cry. Unlike previous generations – dating back 2,000 years – we have all the tools necessary to turn things from sadness to joy, from darkness to light yet… we remain depressed and focused on tragedy.

This can be compared to a person who experienced a personal tragedy yet refuses to move on in life. I am not talking about being “comforted” – that’s the job of Shabbos Nachamu. I am talking about “vision” – seeing the future and moving towards it. Take a look at the Holocaust. Nothing was more tragic on both the personal and national level. Yet, look what happened. On the personal side I know of many people who, despite their enormous pain, suffering, anguish and nightmares built successful businesses and started new families. They refused to let Hitler (may his memory be cursed) win and they refused to live lives of Tisha B’av. Their personal “Chazon” was one of growth, success and life! The same is true on the national side when the State of Israel was built out of the ashes of Aushwitz. The leaders of the state; from Ben Gurion to Begin, did not ask for pity nor did they sit on the floor. They built a country with industry, universities, cities, an army and lots and lots of beautiful shuls, mikvehs and yeshivas! Their vision was returning the Jewish people to Zion and they made it a reality.

What is our vision today? Where do we want to see ourselves in 10 years? Yes, we all sing “Moshiach, Moshiach” but what are we doing to make that a reality? I sincerely believe that this is the key question of our day. Yet it is not being asked. We are living our lives on “auto-pilot” and simply moving along as robots. This is very sad because as I wrote above, we finally have all the tools necessary to get the job done. We have things available today that the Rambam, Vilna Gaon and Chafetz Chaim only dreamed about. We have returned and established a homeland in the land given to us by G-d! We run that land by ourselves and for the first time in 2,000 years are not under the rule of the czar or emperor. We are our own bosses with our own army, our own judicial system and the ability to build, settle and farm the land without begging some wealthy land-owner.

Yet, despite all these positive things, Jews take Tisha B’av more seriously than they do Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day). We have become experts in mourning and crying and say Kaddish better than anyone else. Of course we need to keep Halacha and that is why I too will observe Tisha B’av along with the rest of the Jewish world but to me, that day is not about what happened 2,000 years ago… it is about what is happening NOW! I cry more over the lost potential and lost opportunities that G-d has given us these last 50 years. I fast and sit on the floor because of the daily desecration on the Temple Mount and the fact that people rush to the Kosel without even studying the laws of properly ascending the Temple Mount. I weep over the fact that even with Nefesh b’Nefesh, and all the help and money they offer, the aliyah rate from the USA is ridiculously low. We have the tools but the house remains broken.

Dearest friends; this is your chance to get mad – which stands for: Make A Difference! As you listen to the haftora being read and you hear the words of “Chazon” make sure you have the right vision: The vision to make a difference for yourself, your family and your nation. Look towards the future, pick up the tools that Hashem has placed in your hands and realize that this can be the last Tisha B’av we sit and cry – not because we wished for it but because we actually made it happen. The vision is yours – see it, grab it and make it a reality!!

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