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    The Sabbath of vision

    Jewish grumblers in the United States have recently moved on from criticising Israel to attacking Judaism itself.

    In their view Israel can’t do anything right… and Judaism does everything wrong.

    Rabbinic sermons are not a sufficient counterbalance: the grumblers are unlikely to attend synagogue services, and some of the worst grumblers are rabbis themselves.

    In the midst of the turmoil comes the Shabbat we celebrate this week, Shabbat Chazon, the Sabbath of Vision.

    The name comes from the opening words of the haftarah, “the vision of Isaiah the son of Amotz” (Isa. 1:1).

    It’s not the only Biblical passage about visions, though the grumblers wouldn’t know this.

    Think of the founding father of the Jewish people, Abraham our Patriarch. Commanded by God to offer up his son Isaac (Gen. 22), he is told (according to the Midrash) to raise his eyes from earthly events and lift his sights to the mountain top.

    That’s what Judaism has been saying throughout its long history, not that the grumblers would know since many probably have no Biblical education, though rabbis should know better.

    Moses, the founding father of Judaism, says there are two witnesses to what Judaism has to say – heaven and earth (Deut. 32:1).

    Heaven is the vision of a spiritual, ethical, moral society: earth is where the vision is implemented.

    The vocabulary of Judaism is heart and mind, dreams and deeds, passion and practicality. It’s hard to be a Jew, but it’s good.

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