“You shall not hate your kinfolk in your heart.”
Loving one another as expressed in Torah is an example of our obligation to be kind to each other. In this quotation, however, Torah takes the rare step of commanding an emotion: Do not hate!
This week, Saturday night and Sunday, we observe the tragic day on the Jewish calendar when the First and Second Temples were destroyed. The date for both was Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, considered the darkest day on the Jewish calendar. (This year, the date falls on Shabbat so it is purposely pushed up a date to avoid communal mourning on Shabbat.)
Tradition teaches us that the destruction of the Temple was the result of “causeless hatred”. Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb, Director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem (and my teacher) wrote, “…Historians confirm that disputes within the Jewish community inside the besieged Jerusalem, including violence and the destruction of property, were major factors in the city’s downfall.” He notes that the destruction of Jerusalem is not only a historical episode but is also “a paradigm of the Jewish people as a whole and indeed of each subgroup and community, as applicable today as it was in 70 CE. We do not always have control over the circumstances and values in the greater society/world, but we should try to influence those within the Jewish community, as these can play a critical role in its ultimate strength or weakness…Society must be based on respect, integrity and a willingness to compromise personal interest for the welfare of the community.”
During this time of mourning, how can you integrate the mitzvah of the week, “Do not hate”, into your own life? Is there someone in your family, your congregation, your community who riles up such negative feelings, even if you wouldn’t assign such a strong word as “hate” to describe it? How can you reconcile your feelings so that you can improve your relationship? Oftentimes reconciling these emotions requires one to look to the good instead of focusing on those aspects that offend us.
May you have a week of kindness and blessings and a Shabbat of peace.
P.S. How Should Reform Jews Observe Tisha B’Av? Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs asks and answers this question on the Reform Judaism’s blog and I encourage you to read it. His viewpoint represents my own. Go go: http://www.reformjudaism.org/blog/2015/07/20/how-should-reform-jews-observe-tishah-bav. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shalom uv’racha – peace and blessings,
Rabbi Debbie Israel