Lamentations: First Kinah: Line 2
“Behold, and see our disgrace!” The Shabbat before Tisha B’Av is Shabbat Chazon. It is named after the Haftarah which is from the first chapter of Isaiah. Chazon means vision. The Shabbat before this day we read of Isaiah’s vision, or his perspective on what was wrong with the Jewish people before the destruction. Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch explains that Isaiah’s vision was actually based on another, Chapter 6 of his book. Isaiah witnessed that angels praising God and understood from that what it meant to serve God on the highest levels. He inferred from that all which was wrong with the service of his contemporaries. He realized how hollow it was. He understood how much it was lacking. His first vision, that of the angels, powered his second vision, in which he sees all that is wrong below the surface of righteousness. When we ask God to “Behold and see our disgrace,” we are asking that He too see far below the surface. We are asking God to see the devastation to the nation that is more than the obvious. The damage to our spiritual lives is even worse than what appears on the surface. If Yeshayahu considered the service of God of the generation of the first Beit Hamikdash to be lacking and empty what would he say of ours? How many people who serve God every day actually serve God? Too many of us rush through our prayers without understanding them. Too many of us pray without stopping to realize that we are actually standing before God. Many of us don’t actually believe in God. We don’t know Who God is. Thousands of students study the intricacies of Jewish law without studying the minutiae of the commandments to know God, to know that He is One, to love Him or to be in awe of Him. Moshe Rabbeinu said that those laws are the more important. He said that we must know how to serve God. There is a joke about the person who was not allowed into a synagogue on the High Holidays because he had no ticket. He then went outside and cried to God, “Why I won’t they let me into your house?” God answers, “Why would they let you in if they don’t let me into my own house!” God is missing from too many of our synagogues and schools. People are uncomfortable when God is discussed. If not uncomfortable, then they are disinterested. Frequently, questions about God go unanswered. Our children do not learn about God. They are taught the commandments with out understanding why they are what they are for, and what they accomplish.
The limitations imposed by our living in exile cannot be fathomed by anyone less than a prophet.