|The United Nations was founded over seventy years ago after two world wars that caused immense human death, devastation and suffering, its mission was to negotiate and foster peace between the nations of the world. Its lofty goal was to fulfill the realization of Yeshaya’s prophetic end-time vision, “one nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn of war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
Unfortunately, we are all witness to the utter inability of any of the Nations of the world to come to accommodation with each other when it involves giving up their own interests, and more so, their national honor.
But it pains me to say, my dear and holy fellow Jews, that during and after Tisha B’Av, we must soberly recognize that much of what we identify as dysfunctional in the UN, plagues us internally within our own little nation. In fact, as our Chazal taught, the destruction of the second Bais HaMikdash resulted from, “Sinas Chinam,” baseless hatred that the Jews of ancient Eretz Yisrael harbored toward each other. Internecine infighting between various Jewish factions weakened the body politic of our people and rendered them nearly helpless before the Roman onslaught.
As recorded by Yosef ben Gurion in Josephus, an historical record of that period, the Jewish people, initially, were very successful in defending Yerushalayim from behind its fortified walls. However, in time, diverse groups formed within the city precincts vying for “exclusive leadership” roles. This rapidly led to disunity and even precipitated a violent civil war amongst the Jews themselves. When the Roman general Titus witnessed “rivers of blood” flowing from the city, he knew the Jews were doomed.
But this begs the question, how did this happen? What caused this “baseless hatred” to develop in the first place? What was its root cause and what lessons might we glean that are relevant for us today when, tragically, Sinas Chinam is alive and well within our contemporary ranks?
The answer can be found in a lesser known teaching of our Chazal regarding the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. As recorded in the Gemara Meseches Shabbos 119b, Yerushalayim was destroyed “because there ceased to dwell within her men of faith.” As described in Gemara Sotah 48b, people of faith trust in Hashem to the extent they gladly spend their money to fulfill Mitzvos with “Hiddur” “extravagance” without worries for their personal welfare.
While this Chazal regarding faithlessness appears to contradict the Chazal regarding Sinas Chinam, it is in fact most complementary and holds the key to solving the riddles we posed. Simply stated, the primary cause for Sinas Chinam is lack of faith!
|Faith is the belief that Hashem provides for us everything we need in this world, nothing more and nothing less. “Baseless hatred,” on the other hand, stems from petty jealousies between people and the desire for “Kavod,” to be held in higher esteem than others. This derives directly from the lack of faith that we already possess whatever we’re supposed to have as dictated by the wise and benevolent Will of Hashem.
Without “Emuna,” people run themselves ragged in the vain pursuit of status symbols to compete with, and outdo, their neighbors and acquaintances. This easily leads to resentments, hostilities and yes, hatred. How wise are our Chazal who taught that “Kinah, Taava V’Kavod Motzi’in es HaAdam min HaOlam.” “Jealousy, unbridled desire and the pursuit of honor drive man out of this world.” This is certainly true since these negative traits create a violent environment that can easily result in death.
But it can also be understood at a very practical level. Consider, how much time do we really require to provide for our basic needs? So much of our time is spent chasing frivolous goals with the sole objective of garnering the honor of others. So, in effect, we spend an inordinate amount of time living for others instead of enjoying the blessed life granted to us by Hashem! The Kavod is literally driving us out of living our own lives!
When we live with pure faith we recognize that true honor is reserved for the Almighty Master of the Universe, Creator of Heaven and Earth Who, in His love for us, ordained a unique role for us in this world. And more to the point, the primary role we each have in this world is to give to others, not compete with them, Chas V’Shalom. When we dedicate our lives to loving others and giving to them, we are then acting as Hashem’s agents to bring Divine blessing into this world, indeed the greatest honor of all!
So as we exit Tisha B’Av and begin focusing on the upcoming season of Elul, Teshuva and Yamim Noraim, let us resolve to strengthen our Emuna in Hashem’s providence, let us decide to channel our energies and resources into helping our holy fellow Jews. Then, through the power of our collective Emunah we will transform Sinas Chinam into the Ahavas Chinam that will herald the final redemption of Klal Yisrael and the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash speedily in our days, Amen!