We have begun the month of Av. It is painful month because tradition holds that major calamities occurred on the Ninth of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.
The destruction of the Second Temple pains us the most. Why? Because we did it to ourselves. Yes, the Romans did the actual destroying, but our tradition is clear; our sinat chinam, our baseless hatred toward each other, really caused the Temple to fall. The Romans were merely G-d’s agents.
Rabbinic literature contains legends about that baseless hatred that precipitated the Temple’s fall. One story describes the hateful relationship between two Jews, named Kamtza and bar Kamtza.
The nearly identical names of those arch-enemies teaches that our hatred toward another is nothing less than hatred toward ourselves. Imagine the conversation between them! “I hate you so much, Kamtza!” “I hate you even more, bar Kamtza!” It’s like a conversation in the mirror. Funny if it were not so tragic.
Hatred rears its head within the Jewish community and outside of it, as well. While there may be a “time to hate,” we must understand that hatred is corrosive to all. It is like a boomerang, arching back to harm ourselves.
As we enter Av, may we pray for the kinship of Israel, and may we distinguish ourselves not by baseless hatred, but by shining acceptance and love toward each other and toward all humankind.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill