Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Antidote

Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av 5770. Once again, we find ourselves in the final stages of The Three Weeks culminating next week, with the darkest date on the Jewish calendar: Tisha B'Av. It is axiomatic, as it is recorded in the Talmud that both Batei Mikdash (Temples) were destroyed on this day. Each one was destroyed, says the Talmud, for a different reason. The first was destroyed due to the fact that the Jews were transgressing the three major sins. The second was destroyed due to שנאת חנם  (or baseless hatred). For many years, I have heard speech after speech exhorting us to counter the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash Number 2 with acts of אהבת חנם or acts of selfless love. By doing so, the speakers would always say, we were providing the antidote to the destruction and we would help lead the way to the ultimate rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.

While it could very well be a true statement, I think that we need to look a little deeper and farther back in history in order to find the true antidote. What is the reason that both Batei Mikdash "just happened" to be destroyed on the same day? The Talmud records that when the "spies" came back from spying out the Land of Canaan, they gave a poor, slanted report. As a result, the Torah tells us that וַתִּשָּׂא֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה וַֽיִּתְּנ֖וּ אֶת־קוֹלָ֑ם וַיִּבְכּ֥וּ הָעָ֖ם בַּלַּ֥יְלָה הַהֽוּא  ("The entire congregation raised its voice and cried on that night). IN light of this, the Gemara tells us that . ליל תשעה באב היה, אמר להן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל: אתם בכיתם בכיה של חנם ־ ואני אקבע לכם בכיה לדורות.  (That night was the 9th of Av. G-d said to them, you have cried a useless, pointless cry, I will establish this night as a night of crying for future generations.) In other words, your baseless, false claims about the Land of Israel and the crying that ensued due to this are the root cause of this day (the 9th of Av) becoming a day of tragedy after tragedy for the Jewish people.

If indeed that is the case, then the antidote to the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash is not only Ahavat goes much deeper than that! The antidote is also speaking positively about the Land of Israel...being an advocate for her means VISITING the land to see and extol its beauty...and it means living in the Land as well. All of these actions--each and every one of them relative to the Land of Israel--can indeed act as the antidote we all need in order to change the world and lead to the rebuilding of the bet HaMikdash בב''א !