Today is the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. This has been one heck of a day for the Jews. It marks the day both the first and the second holy temples were destroyed, the day the fortress of Betar fell to the Romans, the day the Jews were expelled from Spain and other tragic events in Jewish history. Amongst other things, Tisha B’Av is a fast day, like Yom Kippur – 25 hours long. However, whereas Yom Kippur focuses on individual sin, Tisha B’Av focuses more on collective sin. The Talmud tells us that the first Temple was destroyed because of idolatry, incest and the spilling of blood within it. The second Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred – sinat chinam (Yoma 9a).
Sinat chinam is an interesting concept. It encompasses things like envy, greed and self-glorification. It encompasses treating others with contempt. It implies a lack of reason in a religion that almost always demands and insists upon reason. I say almost because there is one notable exception.
According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Israel’s first chief Rabbi, the second Temple, destroyed by sinat chinam, senseless hatred, will only be rebuilt by ahavat chinam, love without reason. Now, since this is a day for quiet introspection while sitting on low stools, I’ll just let you meditate on that. I know I will.