Mashiach and Jewish Leadership

Mashiach and Jewish Leadership: Part 30 – Visions of Redemption

Visionary hope and insight are themes which connect and ultimately motivate all five dynamics of leadership. When pursuing the first dynamic, peace and compromise, one must be ever aware of the point of goodness and truth in each person, seeing beyond the dualities of this world to the vision of oneness underlying all Creation. The next dynamic, the drive for wholeness and the ability to draw the "supernatural" into normative reality, entails a vision of a perfected future reality. The very nature of inspiration, our third dynamic, is aroused and invigorated by a visionary outlook on life. The preoccupation of the leader with refining the physical world and unifying all secular knowledge with Torah–the fourth dynamic–is predicated on his perception of all existence as a unified Divine revelation. All three levels of "holy folly," our final dynamic, necessitate a keen visionary awareness of the appropriate action needed at a specific moment in time.

One of the most significant contributions of the Jewish People to the world has been its ability to transmit a universal vision of redemption. Many religions, philosophies, social causes, political movements and artistic endeavors throughout the ages have drawn their inspiration and vision from the Torah and especially the words of the Jewish prophets. The greatest of the prophets in this sense was Isaiah, whose words of salvation and consolation reverberate throughout the generations. At the same time, his prophesies warn of the consequences for a society not based on the principles of charity and justice.

The book of Isaiah opens with the words: "The 'vision,' (chazon), of Isaiah…." This portion is the prophetic reading, the haftorah, for the Shabbat preceding Tisha B'Av, the day in the Hebrew calendar when both Temples were destroyed. A long string of tragic events have occurred throughout Jewish history on that day. This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Chazon, "the Shabbat of Vision." The vision of Isaiah begins with the sad state of affairs in Israel at the time and ends with words of hope and the promise of redemption.

The well known eighteenth-century Chassidic Rebbe, Levi Yitzchack of Berditchev taught that although the remembrance and sadness of the destruction of the Temples are immanent during the days leading up to Tisha B'Av, nonetheless on Shabbat Chazon, each Jew, on some level of consciousness, becomes aware of the future redemption and the rebuilding of the third Temple. This reflects the general principle taught by the sages that G-d always "prepares the healing before the sickness." Reading the vision of Isaiah before Tisha B'Av gives us the clarity and perspective to deal with the exile and destruction relived each year on those sad days.

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