NOT EVERYONE - JUST YOU
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
This Tuesday is Tisha B'av - 9th of Av, the day we mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples. These great buildings were the centre of Jewish worship and stood gloriously in Jerusalem between the years 833 BCE and 69 CE.
The Talmud teaches that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. Conflict, lack of tolerance and disunity all contributed to the destruction and the subsequent exile. Ever since then we have wandered from country to country and been the subject of persecution and hatred from so many nations. Even today we frequently experience anti-Semitism and anti-Israel campaigns.
Many Jewish sources explain that if the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, it will be rebuilt because of baseless love. Unity, tolerance and getting along with each other will bring about that for which we have waited for so long - the coming of Moshiach, the rebuilding of the Temple and the final redemption.
Upon reflection this idea could instil despair rather than hope. If redemption and the end of suffering is dependent on unity and baseless love, how is it going to happen? If we look around the world there seems to be so much conflict, so much disunity and intolerance. So many marriages break down and so many relationships are dysfunctional. How can we possibly achieve a global culture of peace and unity?
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kogan - the Chofetz Chaim, well known for his extensive writings on the topic of positive speech and strong relationships, addresses this issue. In one of his writings he states the following (based on the Zohar):
"It is written that a single congregation which is meticulous in maintaining peace amongst itself can have the merit of bringing the Messiah."
This is extremely powerful. Achieving global redemption does require the whole world to change. It requires an infusion of a powerful energy that can be accomplished by a small group of people or even by a few individuals.
Maimonides writes that every individual should view the world as a scale where good and evil are equally balanced. One single positive action can tip the scale in either direction. Making up with a friend or relative, being respectful to those who think differently, speaking warmly to someone who you dislike are all small things that can have a global affect.
Leading up to Tisha B'av let us take one small step towards loving others, even when we don't want to. We can tip the scale and bring about the new world for which we have been waiting for close to 2000 years.