22. Shabbat Ĥazon

Shabbat Ĥazon is the Shabbat preceding Tisha Be-Av, on which we read the haftara beginning with the words “The vision of Yeshayahu (Ĥazon Yeshayahu)” (Yeshayahu 1:1-27). This haftara contains admonitions that the prophet Yeshayahu pronounced to the people of Israel before the destruction of the Temple. According to Sephardic custom, the main expressions of mourning – like the prohibitions against washing clothes and bathing – begin immediately after this Shabbat, since that is when the week of Tisha Be-Av commences. Therefore, according to the custom of most Sephardim, there are no signs of mourning on Shabbat Ĥazon. According to Ashkenazic custom, however, several customs of mourning begin on Rosh Ĥodesh Av, making Shabbat Ĥazon part of the mourning period. Therefore, many of the European ancestors of Ashkenazim had the custom not to bathe in hot water before Shabbat Ĥazon or wear fancy Shabbat clothing on that Shabbat, as Rema writes (551:1, 16). Several great Ashkenazic sages, however, disagree with this custom, because one may not exhibit signs of mourning on Shabbat. Today, the prevalent custom among Ashkenazic Jews is to shower in lukewarm water, with soap and shampoo, in anticipation of Shabbat Ĥazon, and to wear laundered Shabbat clothing. Some are more stringent and leave out, or replace, one article of clothing, in order to express their sorrow over the destruction of the Temple (MB 551:6). 1
If a bar mitzva boy is called up to the Torah on Shabbat Ĥazon, his parents may host a kiddush in his honor, as is done on any other Shabbat throughout the year, since one should not exhibit signs of mourning on Shabbat. The same is true on the Shabbat before a wedding (Shabbat Ĥatan or aufruf), when the bridegroom is called up to the Torah: the family and friends may eat their meals together and participate in a kiddush, as is customary. Similarly, when a baby boy is born, those who have a custom to host a shalom zakhar may do so as they normally would. (The laws of Tisha Be-Av that falls out on Shabbat or Sunday will be explained below, 9:4.)

  1. Ashkenazim read some of the verses of the haftara of Shabbat Ĥazon and one verse of Parashat Devarim in the tune of Eikha (even when that Shabbat does not fall out on the ninth of Av). Many Jews of North African descent read all three “haftarot of calamity” that are scheduled during the Three Weeks in a chant similar to that of Eikha. Most Sephardim, however, refrain from doing this, to avoid any expression of mourning on Shabbat.
This entry was posted in 8 - The Customs of the Three Weeks. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.