I am not one to project Divine providence on to modern events. There are too many unknown factors in the world and devoid of prophecy we can’t know when God is interfering in the normal course of events. Yet the events of the past month are too extraordinary to simply play off as coincidence. We might never know if they’ve been divinely orchestrated, but we should all be taking a lesson from the events of the past month.
The three weeks of mourning which began with the fast of the 17th of the Jewish month Tammuz and ends with the 9th of Av, commemorates tragedies that occurred over two thousand years ago. While many mistakenly limit the meaning of the mourning to the destroyed Temples, the true calamity of these weeks is not about the past, but rather about the present.
The Temple was a building that allowed us to rendezvous with God. Today we aren’t only left without a building, but without the close connection to God our people used to enjoy. This connection provided miraculous protection from our enemies. We mourn over the state that Jews currently suffer. Although for the first time in over 2,000 years we have autonomy over our own land, we do not have complete control. We are plagued by terrorism, war and political pressure.
No one begins a relationship with others by hating them. By default we either have no feelings or treat others favorably. Hate isn’t a natural state of being; it must be initiated to be active. What brought upon the tragic existence we’ve led as a people these past two millennia? Our Sages have taught that it was baseless hatred towards each other. We let the disagreement leave the arena of the issue at hand and become personal. Our people took opposing positions and disrespected each other to the point that the hate overtook the love that we show each other.
Our Sages have taught us that every generation that doesn’t see the rebuilding of the Temple is responsible for its destruction. As long as we continue the sinful ways of our ancestors at the time of destruction, we are every much as responsible as they were for the state that we’re in. The Temple was destroyed because we allowed hate to overtake the love for each other. This generation has not seen the rebuilding of the Temple and therefore we are also guilty of allowing our hate to overtake our love for each other.
A month ago, in the days leading up to the three weeks of mourning, Jews had a nationwide disagreement among ourselves. Disagreements are part of Jewish culture and they are healthy. Yet at a time we should have a raised awareness of positive interpersonal relations, we failed. We allowed the disagreement to become personal and insulted, offended, and even suggested attacking each other. We allowed our love to be overtaken by hate. The response was immediate; our enemies rose up against us, attacked us, killed us and made it clear that the Temple Mount is not in our hands. We were without divine protection from our enemies, and they prevailed.
The third Kinah that we recited last night described the state that led to the destruction of the Temple, it reads, “גְּדוֹלָה הַשִּׂנְאָה מֵאֵת אֲשֶׁר אֲהֵבָהּ” – “Hate had the upper hand over love.” 2,000 years ago the hated between our people overtook the love with disastrous consequences. This year we repeated the mistake, and it led to disastrous consequences again. Simply hoping it gets better by next year won’t help. Each of us must make sure that any disagreements we have with our fellow Jews do not become personal. We must ensure that love prevails, and that hate never overtakes the love we should have for each other.