Today’s Hebrew calendar date is the 9th of Av (Tisha b’Av). Tisha b’Av is a day of mourning. It commemorates the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem. It commemorates other tragedies in Jewish history.
There are many reasons given for the destruction of the 2nd Temple. There are military reasons, economic reasons, cultural reasons and spiritual reasons. Among the spiritual reasons is a rabbinic tradition that attributes the destruction to the pervasiveness of baseless hatred (sinat chinam) between Jews and their fellow Jews.
Given a series of current events that have stressed (to put it lightly) the relationship between Israel and Diaspora (mostly North American) Jews and the relationship between Ultra Orthodox and non-Ultra Orthodox Jews, I suspect that many Jews are exploring the idea of sinat chinam this Tisha b’Av. Hopefully many Jews will explore the theme of sinat chinam while simultaneously renewing their commitment to finding positive, constructive, healthy, and good ways forward for the Jewish community and Israel. Hopefully Tisha b’Av ends up being a hopeful observance.
As I watch the tensions mount and the schisms widen I can’t help but marvel at the absurdity of it all. It’s absurd to me because, from where I stand, it’s obvious that we are all bound together. Hatred, rather than pushing us apart, actually brings us closer together. Discrimination hurts not only those who are discriminated against, but also those who do the discriminating. And again, it doesn’t sever, it binds. Deeply. At the heart of all the Jewish in-fighting is the mistaken notion that somehow our existence isn’t irrevocably intertwined. That’s the naivety of hatred. And all the tactics of fear, discrimination, hatred, stereotyping, and the such simply bind us to one another in mutually unhealthy ways.
Once people realize the naivety of hatred and realize that hating isn’t good for anyone, maybe we can start to envision heathly ways to co-exist. I look forward to visiting an Israel free of hate and discrimination, where all different types of people are able to live autonomous and meaningful lives that allow individuals and groups to be who and what they are, without infraction from others. The only way for any of us to actually achieve this autonomous and meaningful context of living is for all of us to achieve it. Together. So long as we think that hatred, discrimination and all the stuff of sinat chinam is the way forward, we will only add to the suffering that Tisha b’Av tries to show us.