"Chazon Yeshayahu." A vision of Yeshayahu! The Medrash [Shir Hashirim Rabbah Ch. 3] taught that there are ten levels of prophecy. Sometimes prophecy comes in a dream, sometimes as a feeling and sometimes as a voice. Which kind of prophecy was the harshest? Rabbi Eliezer says that a 'chazon' prophecy, a vision, is the harshest of all. In such a prophecy, the prophet not only heard the message; it was shown to him.
There is no comparison between hearing and seeing. Yeshayahu saw a vision of the Churban, he saw the long suffering of golus and he saw the pain of Yerushalayim. When we hear about the damage we are causing, it is nowhere near as strong as when we see the damage. There is nothing like a 'chazon' to shake us to the core.
There were times in history when we heard about churban, and there were times when we saw churban. People that went through concentration camps, ghettos and persecution during the Shoah saw. My generation, growing up, only heard about the suffering and pain.
The Piasetzner Rebbe wrote the Eish Kodesh while living in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Rebbe explained that actually living in the ghetto taught everyone that the distances between hearing, seeing and experiencing are far greater than anyone can imagine. In the years before the war, "when we studied the passages about the great sufferings of the Destruction, [as described] in the words of the Prophets and the Rabbis, we thought that we had some concept of what had transpired at the time, and on occasion we even cried. But now we see that to hear about sufferings and tragedies is quite a distance from seeing them and certainly from personally experiencing and suffering them."
"Chazon Yeshayahu," Yeshayahu saw the destruction. This was the harshest form of prophecy.
Why was Yeshayahu given a vision? The Piasetzner explains that "Isaiah received a vision because the Jewish people lost their vision! We lost the vision of our true goals in life, and we lost our sight of the truth. We lost our sight of the suffering we were causing one another and we no longer heard each other's cries. We did not hear Hashem crying. We did not hear the cries of the orphans and the widows. We did not hear our souls crying." (quoted and translated by Rabbi Shalom Brodt).
I feel that today again we are having a "chazon", and it is a very painful one indeed. We are seeing pictures of terror victims, men women and children just like us, who are suffering unspeakable horror. We are watching massive assimilation take place in the greater community, and one spiritual crisis after another within our own community.
Why the chazon? Why so harsh? We are receiving a vision because we lost a vision.
What should our vision be? Close your eyes and visualize what we, the Jewish people, should look like. Education should be with warmth and love for every child. Every child should be considered a gem, period. There should be a desperate sense of importance given to unity. We should think a hundred times before doing or saying something which is divisive. We should all be counted on for our honesty and integrity. Israel should be the center of our lives - every other existence should be considered b'dieved. When we lose these basic visions we get a painful chazon. Let us resolve to restore our vision of Torah and be granted by G-d a new vision of Israel and the Jewish people at peace.