What Is Shabbat Hazon? Originally Published August 9-10, 2019.

You will hear the word “hazon” at the very beginning of this Shabbat’s haftarah.  Sometimes referred to as the Sabbath of Vision, the word “hazon” means “the prophesying,” referring to the foretellings of Isaiah son of Amoz, and it follows the line of the haftarot for these weeks - the people have not paid attention, destruction is nigh.

Before Tish’ah Be'Av, we get very serious.  Some of the usual tunes give way to more lamenting, lugubrious melodies, reminding us that the day of (prior) destruction is near. 

On Friday evening many congregations will chant “Lekha Dodi” to the tune of “Eli Tsiyyon” which is a poem of lamentation.  On Saturday, the Torah reading includes as a part of the second aliyah a section beginning with the word “Eykhah” (at Devarim 1:12) that would be chanted using the cantillation of the Book of Eykhah.  And in the haftarah the tune will change back and forth from the Eykhah melody to the regular haftarah cantillation.

This particular haftarah warns of the negative fate that may be brought about by ignoring the weakest, the neediest, the most struggling among us. 

Shabbat Hazon is often referred to as Black Sabbath, being the saddest Shabbat of the year.  Shabbat Shuvah (Sabbath of Return), between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is often referred to as White Sabbath.

The Shabbat following Tish’ah Be'Av is Shabbat Nahamu, the Shabbat of Consolation, and Nahamu is the first word of that week’s haftarah.  We will hear such consolation until Rosh Hashanah.  Your correspondent wonders whether “consolation” is the proper term, as many parts of those readings are still along the lines of admonition.  There is always something to discuss.