Antisemitism may seem like the greatest threat facing the Jewish people today but the greater threat, far too long ignored, is the antisemitism being committed everyday between Jews. We are reminded each year on Tisha B’Av that sinat chinam (baseless hatred) was the reason the Second Temple was destroyed, causing our final exile, now lasting nearly 2,000 years. During this time, we have not healed as a people but rather found new ways to dislike one another as we’ve adopted different cultures, created new customs and convinced ourselves that we are each somehow, the better Jew. Very few of us can claim we feel welcome in every Jewish community while standing comfortably in our differences, and perhaps none of us could escape some form of lashon hara (words of disparagement) if we were to behave differently than what was expected from others. But there are no mistakes in Creation and surely, we were meant to face this challenge in order to merit the Third Temple and witness again, the Divine Presence of our Creator.
We must realize that no amount of money or protest will end the antisemitism we are currently facing. Rather, our challenge is to heal the antisemitism in our own community as these hateful acts are only painful reflections of the wounds we are suffering within.
So how can we heal? How can we end sinat chinam and become the impenetrable light we are meant to be in this world?
We can start with a pledge to end lashon hara. When we speak negatively about others, whether in the form of gossip or with an air of disapproval, we must realize that our words are actually attacking Hashem. As creations made in His image, every soul must be free to embrace its authenticity and never be shamed into conforming to others. Only by doing so can our soul achieve its life’s mission to express the unique aspect of G-d for which it was created to reveal.
But when we disparage our fellow for not meeting our expectations and carelessly speak lashon hara, it is our egos confusing us to believe they should meet our expectations rather than live up to their own. Therefore, speaking lashon hara only darkens the light of Hashem in this world because what it expresses is our will to hide that light in others.
When the Jewish people end lashon hara and embrace the uniqueness of every Jew, we will achieve the mitzvah of Ahavat Israel (love for every Jew), allowing us to heal as we realize that we are all One. But if we continue expressing hate for one another, we have no hope against Amelek and the war on antisemitism that we are fighting today.
So let’s fight this together and stop committing lashon hara. Let’s love each other as we are because when Am Israel learns to love itself, we will finally become the light that is loved by the world.
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