This weekend is Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av. It is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, on which we fast, deprive ourselves and pray. It is the culmination of the Three Weeks, a period of time during which we mark the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Since then, prayers for the rebuilding of Jerusalem have taken a central role in our services. Three times a day in the Amidah prayer we beseech G-d to return us to Jerusalem, rebuild the Holy Temple, ". . .we hope for this all day," and usher in the Messianic era, ". . .may it be speedily in our days."
But there is more that we can do than just hope and pray.
Our Sages tell us that the destruction of the Temple was a result of sinat chinam, gratuitous hatred among the Jewish people. By reversing this we can change the course of our destiny and bring an end to the exile sooner. Thus we must nullify that cause by living a life of ahavat chinam, gratuitous love among the Jewish people.
A beautiful story I read in Seeds of Wisdom comes to mind:
In the 1950s a Jewish children's magazine was struggling. Chabad had its own publication called Talks and Tales. When the Rebbe learned that the non-Chabad magazine was considering discontinuing their publication, he anonymously sent them a check for the amount needed to keep it running. "But aren't they competitors?" the Rebbe was asked. "The Jewish community is diverse." The Rebbe responded. "People's needs, persuasions and interests vary. It's crucial that there is something for everyone."
There must be gratuitous (unqualified) love even to those who have never done us a favor, even to those we have never met or seen, and especially to those with whom we may have the most profound disagreements.
This is something that each of us can improve in. And if we can, then we must.
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog and Mussie's Musings
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.