Is there hope?
It’s hard to form the words. It’s even harder to publish a blog on this topic, in light of the feeling that I’m probably just spinning my own wheels. Maybe this year it’ll be different. Maybe not…
Every year on Tisha B’av (the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av) we mourn the fact that we have no Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) among the countless other blood-soaked tragedies which have befallen the Jews, including the Holocaust, the pogroms, the sin of sending spies to the land of Israel, and too many more to list.
It has long been a custom not to print a Tisha B’av siddur (prayer book) in hard cover, because then we would be implying that this book is intended for many years to come. It is so obvious that we want this year’s Tisha B’av to be the last, with next year’s 9th of Av services to be taking place in the third Beit Hamikdash, with frankincense and all. But what are we doing to make that a reality?
Forgetting Tisha B’av for a moment, every single time we complete the Shmoneh Esrei (silent amida), three times a day, we ask God for the Beit Hamikdash to be speedily rebuilt in our days, and the services to be restored as in the days of old. But what does that even mean to us?
Every year, people (myself included) take on New Year’s resolutions of all sorts, with the best of intentions to actually be nicer and more caring. However, what actually changes?
As disconnected as these may seem, the answers to these three questions are quite interlinked. People often feel that with any other world problem, the only answer is for some dude to ride out of the sky on a winged unicorn spreading magical vibes that will make everyone see the truth, and instantly solving all of the world’s problems, with some Beatles playing in the background, of course. But, as awesome as that would be, the Beatles are dead*.
The realistic answer lies within each of us. We need to normalize Ahavat Chinam (baseless love). You do not need to be a hippie to understand this. You need to be a person who understands basic human thought processes. We live in a society today which is based around people seeing something on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, CNN, the WSJ, Al Jazeera or any other “reliable source”, and it becomes reality. This is because, if they said it it must be true. Right? Well then, if that’s the case, why not try that with baseless love? The Nazis with all of their propaganda did not have half the convincing power Will Smith’s son did with his Twitter account. Why not use this unparalleled force for good?
Maybe the time has come for each of us to actually do our part. Maybe if we take the time to ponder what the world would be like if the default was baseless love, and actually start doing something about it, we would be on the path to next Beit Hamikdash. When thinking about the third Beit Hamikdash, we can focus on its splendor and glory and the fact that God’s house in this world will have been restored. But dare I say of equal or more importance, we should focus on what the world would be like if the whole reason for the Beit Hamikdash not being here was reversed and instead of the Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) which rules the world today, Ahavat Chinam was the norm. Just imagine that.
Maybe I’m just spinning my wheels; hopefully I’m not.
*Aside from one.