As I sit here on the eve of Tisha B’av – a day which we commemorate as our national day of mourning, a commemoration that we have held for thousands of years – I cannot help but think how painful it is that our national day of mourning is as relevant today as it has been throughout the millennia. The past month in Eretz Yisrael and around the world, reminds us that we are far from the time of peace and tranquility that we all yearn for. The time that we are all now praying for more than ever.
The Talmud teaches us that this day is not simply the day we commemorate the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and their subsequent exiles, that we not view it as a destruction of the past – but one of the present. We are taught that in every generation that the Bet Hamikdash (The Temple in Jerusalem) is not rebuilt, it is because we are not yet a generation worthy of it being rebuilt. In fact, they go even further and say that this means that if it was standing today, it would have been destroyed today yet again. A tough message.
But not as tough as the message behind why our sages say that the temple was destroyed. While the first temple was destroyed due to some pretty major violations (e.g. Murder…) the second temple was destroyed, and continues to remain destroyed due to the prevalence of “Sinat Chinam” – baseless hated amongst Jews. After all, so much, if not all of the animosity that one Jew often feels towards another is quite baseless. And the message is that this too is not a minor violation, but a major one. And this too is not a shortcoming of past generations, but one we currently continue to experience.
However, as we are unfortunately in the midst of experiencing a modern day national tragedy and witness families suffering the loses of brothers, fathers, children, and friends – we often find that our people bond together and put aside our differences. We are reminded that at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters, and that as Jews, we really thrive when we experience “Ahavat Chinam,” unconditional love for each other.