Before Tisha B’Av, I had an argument with a good friend from the synagogue. It was a silly argument over the recent departure of the rabbi at the conclusion of his contract, and unfortunately, the shul became divided over this issue. The breakup was compounded by lots of “fake news” about what had happened, and in the end, the people from the community were left fighting in two camps: for and against.
However, yesterday was Shabbos Nachamu, the Shabbat after Tisha B’Av, where the prophet speaks about G-d comforting us after the destruction of the Holy Temple — that the suffering will be over, and we will return to Mount Zion. The D’var Torah at the end of services reinforced this theme that the Temple was destroyed because of infighting in the Jewish community and we need to do better, as the familiar saying: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The speech was about having unconditional love for our fellow man. Anyway, I took this message to heart, and after the speech, I went over to my friend who I had fought with, and I held out my hand to his.
At first, I could see that he was literally too upset to shake hands and make up. But I told him, I wanted to be his friend. After a minute, I reached for his withdrawn hand and shook it. I bent over to him and put my arm around him and told him I didn’t want to fight with him and wanted to have peace. He told me how upset he was over the fight about the rabbi. I said, “It’s over. We need to help the shul and community move forward, to rebuild, to work together.” I told him I was sorry for what happened between us, and ultimately, the issues weren’t really between us. He said, “You were one of my best friends in the synagogue.” I said, “I still am! This week is Shabbos Nachamu, a time of healing and comfort. And soon it will be Rosh Hashanah, and I want to wish you and your family all the best for the new year.” He smiled, and I smiled. I went back to my seat to put away my tallit, and then we went downstairs for Kiddish. I looked over his way and wondered if he would accept my friendship again, and we could heal, the way the community needed to heal. Towards the end of the Kiddish, my friend came over to me and gave me a big hug — I was so happy!
The message of Shabbat Nachamu is that the power of love and friendship can win out over the efficacy of anger and fighting. We don’t need to fight each other, and even if we do at times argue over the issues, there are many opportunities that we can overcome through compassion, love, and constructive reconciliation. The ultimate redemption and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem are close at hand, and all of us can help to usher it in sooner because that’s the power of love.