Today is the beginning of The Nine Days. It is the time where we mourn and tear our clothing out of despair at having seen our two precious temples destroyed. It is the time that the nation of Israel is supposed to band together, praying fervently for unity and peace in preparation for the coming redemption.
Instead, today, on the first of The Nine Days and Rosh Chodesh Av, eggs were thrown at the holy site of the Kotel.
Take a moment and think about that, please.
Think about the fire and hatred that had to be behind such a heinous and saddening act. Think about how the holiness of the Kotel was forsaken to make a point. Think about how it was Jew against Jew, in a blind rage. And that is exactly what hurts the most. Jew vs. Jew, a mindless, inconceivable sin.
I am heartbroken over the very idea that such a thing could have happened. How is it that after thousands of years of persecution, oppression and destruction we have not learned to unite as a people? Are we lacking judgement from the outside that we feel the need to tear down one another?
Our Second Temple, broken down and torn away from us at the end of these nine days, was destroyed for a simple reason. Sinat chinam, baseless hatred. At this very time in our history, one of the saddest, most mournful periods that we have every known, at the same site that was desecrated this morning, was destroyed for baseless hatred. And I cannot believe that we are senseless enough to be repeating history. Again.
A perfect example in our history can be seen in the book of Shmot. “Lamah takeh re’echa?” “Why would you strike your fellow?” (Shmot, 2:13) Moshe here questions a Jewish man as to why he would raise his hand to his friend. He seems shocked that such an indecent act could occur in the middle of such oppression! Did they not suffer enough at the hands of the Egyptians that they felt the need to turn on each other as well?
Can we not ask ourselves the same question? Are we truly preserving the holiness of the place where the Third Temple will stand when such detestation presides there? I am frightened of the consequences that may arise, that chas v’shalom we should see the same destruction again. We are not strangers to our history, of that which makes us who we are today. We see this everlasting pattern throughout the books of the Tanach and now even more in recent months. The cycle of hatred, destruction, crying out and redemption. The question is, is this necessary? Do we need to live through the first two stages before realizing that the path to peace and unity is through Ahavat Yisrael?
And I truly believe that Ahavat Yisrael is the answer to it all. Putting aside the small differences and becoming one. We are the strongest nation in the world, and always have been. We have a power that we do not even recognize. We have the strength and potential to be a unifying force against those who wish to bring devastation upon us from the outside, and yet we turn it in and lash out towards our brethren.
It is my heartfelt prayer that we come to realize our promise as a people, as a whole, and learn to live like brothers, and not like adversaries. May we have a change of heart to love one another with the conviction of those who know that the path to peace is through the channels of cooperation.