July 16-17, 2021 Parashat Devarim
8 Av 5781 Erev Tisha B’Av
Moses defines true justice for the Israelites as they prepare to enter the Land of Israel: “Hear out your brothers and decide justly between any man and a fellow Israelite or stranger. You shall not be partial in judgment; hear out the low as well as the high” (Deuteronomy 1:16). Moses wants the people to know to judge everyone fairly, regardless of their status in society. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin writes: “It is human nature for people to be swayed and influenced by another person’s wealth and status… But when it comes to justice, social class and economic station should be irrelevant.” The message is clear: everyone is valued, regardless of circumstances. Rashi taught that a legal case involving a poor person is just as important as a case involving a wealthy person. Our tradition teaches that all people in society are of equal worth; treating them as such is true justice.
This day of mourning begins after sundown Saturday and continues until sundown Sunday. We remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples as well as other tragedies our people have endured. Customs include refraining from the following pleasures: eating meat, drinking wine, getting a haircut, and purchasing new clothing. Some people fast from sunrise to sunset.
Shabbat Chazon (Sabbath of Vision) is the name given to the Shabbat and the Haftarah that is read on the Shabbat prior to Tisha B’Av. We read the words of rebuke and doom from Isaiah. This day is also called the Black Sabbath, as it is the saddest Shabbat of the year.