Destruction of Unity – The Three Weeks

2 08 2011

Based o a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller

Chazal say that the second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinat chinam-baseless hatred. In Hebrew there is only one word for love, ahavah-feeling empathy and identity with another person. The opposite of this is sinah-purposely distancing oneself from someone with whom you would ordinarily have a close relationship. For example, if you would normally say hello to someone and you choose not to, that is hatred.

What does sinat chinam really mean? Can someone truly hate another person for nothing? The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that people usually express hatred for three reasons.  A person may have such a strong need for self-validation that he considers someone who is different from him a threat. Secondly, people who are poorer may disparage people who have more, thinking that having less makes them less. On the other side of the coin, wealthier people may end up feeling constrained by the jealousy of the poor and this may cause hatred too.

Feeling superior to others tears apart the unity of Israel. Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberger in a lecture on Shabbat Chazan, discusses how Hashem wants us to pray by pouring our hearts out to Him. Awakening yourself to this level is accomplished by joining in the suffering of Klal Yisrael. In this way, we become a part of those who mourn over Zion and Yerushalayim. Since the nisuch hamayim-the water libation ceased with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, our tears stemming from the depths of our hearts, have been engendered with the power to bring forth the same outpouring. Feeling compassion for our fellow Jews will take us past hatred to a level of greatness one could never have reached by just mourning the Churban. It is written in the Torah, “Vayigdal Moshe..Vayare b’sivlosom”-And Moshe grew up and saw their burdens. Moshe saw many things in his multi-faceted lifetime including the miracles of the Exodus of Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Torah.  Yet the Torah specifically singles out the pain he shared with his enslaved brethren as the climax in his ascension to greatness.  We need to feel an areivus-responsibility to Klal Yisrael because in essence we are one being. Praying for the suffering of Jewry, empathizing and awakening feelings of closeness for other Jews, is the opposite of sinat chinam-distance.

The Maharal explains that no one is big enough to experience Hashem completely. We need to understand Hashem through the experiences we have with other people. Someone who makes you feel defensive or resentful compels you to find the spirituality that lies within the person that you don’t have. Rebbe Nachman says that a little tzaddik is hidden inside every Jew. Developing an eye to find this spiritual spark helps you discover Hashem himself. That is what Hillel meant. Seeking Hashem is the whole Torah, and the primary way to bring Him into our lives is by loving another person. Achdut Yisrael means finding the collective tzaddik in all of us that is being put off by all the differences and committing ourselves to learn from these differences.

The period of the Three Weeks compels us to awaken ourselves to feel the pain and struggle of others so that our empathy can overcome all our petty differences. As the Baal HaTanya explains, if one can imagine another person’s struggle with themselves and remember our own struggles it will surely bring to profound compassion which will in turn overcome all hatred.

Chazal say that the second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinat chinam-baseless hatred. In Hebrew there is only one word for love, ahavah-feeling empathy and identity with another person. The opposite of this is sinah-purposely distancing oneself from someone with whom you would ordinarily have a close relationship. For example, if you would normally say hello to someone and you choose not to, that is hatred.

What does sinat chinam really mean? Can someone truly hate another person for nothing? The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that people usually express hatred for three reasons.  A person may have such a strong need for self-validation that he considers someone who is different from him a threat. Secondly, people who are poorer may disparage people who have more, thinking that having less makes them less. On the other side of the coin, wealthier people may end up feeling constrained by the jealousy of the poor and this may cause hatred too.

Feeling superior to others tears apart the unity of Israel. Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberger in a lecture on Shabbat Chazan, discusses how Hashem wants us to pray by pouring our hearts out to Him. Awakening yourself to this level is accomplished by joining in the suffering of Klal Yisrael. In this way, we become a part of those who mourn over Zion and Yerushalayim. Since the nisuch hamayim-the water libation ceased with the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, our tears stemming from the depths of our hearts, have been engendered with the power to bring forth the same outpouring. Feeling compassion for our fellow Jews will take us past hatred to a level of greatness one could never have reached by just mourning the Churban. It is written in the Torah, “Vayigdal Moshe..Vayare b’sivlosom”-And Moshe grew up and saw their burdens. Moshe saw many things in his multi-faceted lifetime including the miracles of the Exodus of Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Torah.  Yet the Torah specifically singles out the pain he shared with his enslaved brethren as the climax in his ascension to greatness.  We need to feel an areivus-responsibility to Klal Yisrael because in essence we are one being. Praying for the suffering of Jewry, empathizing and awakening feelings of closeness for other Jews, is the opposite of sinat chinam-distance.

The Maharal explains that no one is big enough to experience Hashem completely. We need to understand Hashem through the experiences we have with other people. Someone who makes you feel defensive or resentful compels you to find the spirituality that lies within the person that you don’t have. Rebbe Nachman says that a little tzaddik is hidden inside every Jew. Developing an eye to find this spiritual spark helps you discover Hashem himself. That is what Hillel meant. Seeking Hashem is the whole Torah, and the primary way to bring Him into our lives is by loving another person. Achdut Yisrael means finding the collective tzaddik in all of us that is being put off by all the differences and committing ourselves to learn from these differences.

The period of the Three Weeks compels us to awaken ourselves to feel the pain and struggle of others so that our empathy can overcome all our petty differences. As the Baal HaTanya explains, if one can imagine another person’s struggle with themselves and remember our own struggles it will surely bring to profound compassion which will in turn overcome all hatred.

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