As many of you are all aware, there is a massive amount of civil unrest in Eretz Yisrael, for a variety of reasons. The handling of the coronavirus by the Knesset, the confusion over the possibility of a guaranteed income in Israel, and the spillover of the BLM movement in small pockets of the country. Recently, an Israeli woman went on top of the menorah in front of the Knesset, and took of her shirt, protesting toplessly.
Whatever your opinion on this is, I wanted to bring up a point. As we get closer to Tisha B’Av, it would be a good idea to analyze how exactly the 2,000 year exile from our homeland took place. According to our Sages, the reason the second temple was destroyed is because of Sinat Chinam, or baseless hatred.
אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות ע”ז גלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים
“However, considering that the people during the Second Temple period were engaged in Torah study, observance of mitzvot, and acts of kindness, and that they did not perform the sinful acts that were performed in the First Temple, why was the Second Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that there was wanton hatred during that period. This comes to teach you that the sin of wanton hatred is equivalent to the three severe transgressions: Idol worship, forbidden sexual relations and bloodshed.“
The first exile only lasted 70 years, until king Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Israel. The Roman exile lasted 1878 years, until Israel was established (and some would argue that it is still ongoing, but I digress).
Therefore, the question is posed: Why did the second exile last so much longer than the first? While there are many different interpretations of the section of Yoma discussed, here’s my take. G-d cares more about how people treat each other with respect than over the minutiae of other Halakhot (this doesn’t mean they are not important, I am referring to axioms of faith). Again, Rabbi Akiva said that the whole Torah is treating other people with respect (See Shabbat 31a). If mitzvot relating to other people supersede relations with G-d, than it makes sense that the Roman exile was so long. This is explained further in the parable of Kamzta and Bar Kamtza.
As we approach Tisha B’Av, it pains me that Klal Yisrael seems to be more divided than ever, and Sinat Chinam is rampant. Polarization is just the first step of baseless hatred, and G-d forbid, we have a repeat of 70 CE on Tisha B’Av…