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So the Temple was destroyed, what now?
By Nachum Mohl
Each year at this time, meaning from the fast day of the Seventeeth of Tamuz to the fast of the Ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av), we go through the same thing – what should we do to observe or commemorate this tragic time. It has been two thousand years ago since the holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and we Jews ended up in in a long, long exile. Two thousand years is a long time and for this many years we have we been trying to commemorating it and remember it and make it meaningful. How long did the Temple stand? The two temples stood a total of 830 years interrupted by seventy years of exile. So we have been commemorating it for twice the amount of time that the Temple stood and what have we gotten out of it? The Temple is not rebuilt although we are fortunate to see in our times a regathering of the exile back to our ancient times.
Let us just stop and think: Commemorate? How do we commemorate something that we can not really relate to? Those of the generation of the holocaust can relate to the holocaust – not just the survivors, but also those who lived with them. We who have parents, relatives, friends, neighbors or even passing acquaintances who have somehow miraculously survived the holocaust can understand the holocaust. If (thank G-d) we did not have a first hand experience with the horrors of Nazi brutality, we have at least a second hand understanding of what really happened, of the horrors of the Nazis, the extermination, the starvation, the filth, the disease, the totality of the horror of the living through the holocaust. But when it comes to the temple, who can remember someone who remembers? Its gone; lost forever.
So if the feeling, the realization of what the Temple was and what was missing is totally gone from our minds and hearts, how can we honestly commemorate something that had existed and has no equal in the contemporary human realm of experience that we can relate it to?
The rabbis in the Talmud tell us that the Temple was destroyed do to sinat chinam (hatred with no tangible reason). It was due to sinat chinam that we no longer have our Temple; therefore many people think that during this period of time when we commemorate the destruction. They reason that we should emphasize this aspect that caused its destruction. In deed, we do find that many people make seminars at this time to emphasize the evil of speaking bad of one's fellow Jew, many take upon themselves to learn or re-learn the laws of 'lashon ha-ra' (speaking badly about another). Indeed in Jerusalem as well as in many other major cities of large Jewish population it has become feasible to have special gatherings to discuss these matters.
But the Talmud did not tell us to emphasize sinat chinam and lashon ha-ra.The Talmud only mentions that that was the downfall, the cause of our great loss of the Temple and our exile; it did not tell us to emphasize these laws.
Rather what is important to emphasize is just the reverse!
What we need to emphasize is ahavat chinam (love with no tangible reason). If hatred caused our down fall, focusing on hatred is not the answer; the answer lies with focusing on the opposite: focusing on loving the other person and without any logical reason. What does this mean? When you see someone who you do not know; who is not your friend, and maybe you have no need for this person to be your friend and therefore you feel that you may safely ignore him or her. Instead, show them your love. How? No, don't kiss them, but rather simply smile, be warm, interest yourself in their life. Your sincere interest in them will bring the two of you together (as opposed to the cashier in the supermarket's wishing you a good day – and she could care less about you).
What happens is that wen you focus your interest in the negative, sinat chinam there little chance of improvement, but when you focus yourself in the positive, in going out to be friendly with someone who you hardly know or don't know at all, you will practice ahavat chinam. You will bring people together in friendship, you will establish harmony between people. By putting the focus on the positive instead of the negative you will bring love back between people.
Remember, if sinat chinam caused the Temple to be destroyed then ahavat chinam will bring the situation back to where it was before the terrible tragedy of our losing Temple and our connection to G-d.
Don't just read this and say, yes, I believe. Go out and do it! Spread the desire to rekindle the love that existed between us so many years ago. Do it now and then copy this article and send it in an email to all of your friends. Be part of the grass roots efforts to get ourselves out of the exile and into the next Temple era.
from the July 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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