Monday, August 08, 2011

Did Baseless Hatred Really Destroy The Temple?

Before the Fast of the Fifth Month 5771

Sin'ath Hinam (baseless hatred) is a very popular phrase to throw around, especially around the Fast of the Fifth Month (9 b'Av). The following page of gemara is also very popular to cite this time of year, as it carries discussions of the reasons behind the destruction of both the First and Second Temples.

Here is section of it...
תלמוד בבלי יומא ט,ב
...אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות ע"ז גלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים רשעים היו אלא שתלו בטחונם בהקב"ה אתאן למקדש ראשון דכתיב (מיכה ג) ראשיה בשוחד ישפוטו וכהניה במחיר יורו ונביאיה בכסף יקסומו ועל ה' ישענו לאמר הלא ה' בקרבנו לא תבוא עלינו רעה לפיכך הביא עליהן הקב"ה ג' גזרות כנגד ג' עבירות שבידם שנאמר (מיכה ג) לכן בגללכם ציון שדה תחרש וירושלים עיין תהיה והר הבית לבמות יער ובמקדש ראשון לא הוה ביה שנאת חנם והכתיב (יחזקאל כא) מגורי אל חרב היו את עמי לכן ספוק אל ירך וא"ר <אליעזר> [אלעזר] אלו בני אדם שאוכלין ושותין זה עם זה ודוקרין זה את זה בחרבות שבלשונם וכו'

Babylonian Talmud Yoma 9b
[R' Yohanan ben Torsa said:] But, the Second Temple, when they were occupied with Torah and misswoth (Torah commandments) and acts of kindness - why was it destroyed? Because of the baseless hatred that existed there. This teaches you that baseless hatred is compared to three sins: foreign worship, forbidden sexual relations, and spilling of blood. They were wicked people but they placed their trust in the Holy One Blessed Be He.

We have come to the period of the of the First Temple, as it is written: "Her heads judge for bribes and her priests issue ruling for a fee and her prophets divine for money" (Micha 3:11). Yet they rely on HaShem, saying, "Is not HaShem in our midst? Nothing bad will befall us!" (ibid.) Therefore,the Holy One, Blessed Be He brought upon them three decrees, corresponding to the three sins in their hands, as it says, "Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a filed, and Jerusalem shall become ruins, and the Temple Mount [shall be] as the high places of the forest" (Micha 3:12).

Was there no baseless hatred in the time of the First Temple? It is written: "Cry out and wail, Son of Man! For it was among My nation, it was among the princes of Israel. Those who fear the sword were My people, therefore smite upon your thigh [in grief]" (Yehezkeil 21:17). And R' Elazar said: This verse refers to those people who eat and drink together, but stab each other with the daggers of their tongue....

You get the point.

Now let us put the gemara into context. During the time of the Second Temple, Am Yisrael was filled with factions, yet what they all had in common was that...
...they were occupied with Torah and misswoth (Torah commandments) and acts of kindness
Baseless hatred, emphasis on the word baseless, was apparently behind the Temple's destruction.

During the time of the Second Temple, Jews were all Torah observant! The nit-picking between groups, now that was baseless.

However, this is not the case today! Every Jew is not engaged in Torah, misswoth, or acts of kindness, like in the time of the Second Temple. So, it is incorrect to apply this concept of sin'ath hinam when Religious Jews express distaste, or even hatred, toward a secular culture of Shabbath breaking, pork eating, Western-defined multi-culturalism.

We are supposed to hate those things, and everything else which violates our Holy Torah!

Mind you, I am not speaking about the individuals involved in Shabbath desecration, etc. I am speaking of the acts themselves. Besides, the case can easily be made that these Jews all have the status of tinoq shenishba (child in the hands of goyim), and thus do not know any better.

I do believe that we need to reach out to such Jews, and that this is one of our greatest challenges today.

But, what about those Jews who do know better, yet who are battling the Torah and its authority with every fiber of their being?

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that only five such individuals exist in the world. Would I hate them? You better believe that I would! In fact, as resha'im (evil people), they are not even considered part of Yisra'el (Ramba"m, Hil. Teshuvah)! But, this is not baseless hatred, but rather an excellent example of hatred for a reason, a Torah reason!

HaZa"L (Our Sages, may their memories be for blessings) compare baseless hatred to three sins: foreign worship, forbidden sexual relations, and spilling of blood, sins we are supposed to hate. The hatred of these sins and of those who lead others to do such sins is also not in the least bit baseless. It, too, is hatred for a reason, and has a basis in Torah.

Furthermore, the baseless hatred to which HaZa"L refer is between Jews. Food for thought.

There is another thing which I am compelled to point out regarding this page of gemara, and that is that many, if not most, Jews do not appear to finish the page! As a wise Jew sarcastically suggested to me this evening, "Why should they finish the page, when they have already found what they were looking for?"

I do not want to minimize the gravity of baseless hatred and lashon hara (forbidden speech). Nonetheless, it is also inappropriate to ignore the latter portion of this page, where an additional, or alternative, explanation behind the Second Temple's destruction is proposed.
תלמוד בבלי יומא ט,ב
ריש לקיש הוי סחי בירדנא אתא רבה בר בר חנה יהב ליה ידא א"ל אלהא סנינא לכו דכתיב (שיר השירים ח:ט) "אם חומה היא נבנה עליה טירת כסף ואם דלת היא נצור עליה לוח ארז" אם עשיתם עצמכם כחומה ועליתם כולכם בימי עזרא נמשלתם ככסף שאין רקב שולט בו עכשיו שעליתם כדלתות נמשלתם כארז שהרקב שולט בו

Babylonian Talmud Yoma 9b
Resh Laqish was bathing in the Jordan [River] Rabba bar bar Hannah came, and shook his hand. He [Resh Laqish] said to him God detests you [Babylonians], as it is written (Song of Songs 8:9) "If she be a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver; and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar." If you had made yourselves [as strong] as a wall, and all went up in the days of Ezra, you would have been likened to silver, which cannot rot; but as you did not, you were likened to cedar [wood] doors, in which rot can take hold.

In other words, if enough Jews had made aliyah (immigration to Israel) back then, then perhaps there would have been enough of a stronghold on the Land, as well as the military force, to have prevented the Roman conquest, and destruction.

So, in addition to the importance of checking our hearts and watching our tongues, we must also ask ourselves what we are doing to protect our Homeland from further conquest and destruction, such as the absconding with parts of it for yet another Arab state, the assimilation of Jews into non-Jewish cultures, and the infiltration of avodah zarah.

Arabs are breathing down our necks, getting ready to take hold of Yehudah & Shomron (Judea & Samaria), and who knows what else, all with United Nations backing.

Christian missionaries continue to flow into Israel, to "help" us. (Thanks, but no thanks!)

Foreign workers are "marrying" Jews, and obtaining "special rights," if not citizenship.

Meanwhile, you the "Babylonians" of our time are not making aliyah.
תלמוד ירושלמי יומא א:א
כל דור שאינו נבנה בימיו מעלין עליו כאילו הוא החריבו


Jerusalem Talmud Yoma 1:1
Each generation which does not have in its days the Temple built, it is as if it had destroyed it.
So, the next time you hear the almost cliché, "If only another million Jews would make aliyah, then...," don't just brush it off. Give it some thought.

In fact, give it some thought this Tuesday, at the same time you are thinking about what you are going to do to help rebuild the Temple.

*********
From Yekutiel Ben-Ya'akov:

excellent observations indeed

And let us not forget that the birth of the crying for all generations to follow commenced with the sin of the meraglim, the spies who spoke "loshon Horah" on The Land, and who planted the seeds of lack of faith in G-d and in His ability to bring us safely into The Land. This is the root to Tisha BaAv and all of the destructions to follow.

Baseless hatred against those who we have no basis and reason to hate is a problem.

The problem is not those who fight against the evil. The problem is in those who fight against the righteous and against those who have the courage to take a stand against evil and injustice. The problem is those who sway justice in favor of those who give bribes, not the honest judges who judge the wicked and reward the righteous!

So many Rabbis and others have distorted authentic Torah - urging free love to the wicked and showing hatred towards the righteous souls who fight the wicked. As they say in Hebrew, Hafuch al Hafuch upside down on upside-down.

*********

Make sure to read Yekutiel's post Revisiting Kamtza Bar Kamtza - Why Was The Temple Really Destroyed.

3 comments:

David Tzohar said...

Your conclusion that the fact that because most Jews are not shomrei mitzvot and not sinat chinam is what is preventing geulah in our grneration is IMHO erroneous. Torah learning is more widespread today than at any time in history. The great sins of our generation are davka ben adam lechavero and especially the bloodletting of Jews by Jews. We were all shocked by the brutal murder of Baba Elazar by a chareidi Jew.But no one seems to notice that 17 women were killed by their husbands or boyfriends in this year alone!. This is so commonplace that it hardly makes the news anymore. If murderers would suffer the death penalty as per din Torah perhaps less blood would be spilled in the end.

Esser Agaroth said...

David, That was not my conclusion at all.

I wanted to emphasize two points:

1. That people throw around the phrase sin'ath hinam too much without knowing what it really means, and that hating evil people is not sin'ath hinam at all.

2. That Jews despising the Land is not helping the situation either.

When we say that cliche, "If only 1,000,000 Jews would make aliya from the U. S....." there is actually something to it.

Ariel ben Yochanan said...

Very well said and thought! I would only add that not all "torah learning" is necessarily Torah learning: We live in an age in which large sections of Jewish society imploded to the worshiping of their own rabbis' teachings or to different things other than Hashem, like the State, the IDF, etc. If one applies the Rambam's definition on what worshiping is, "attributing one's hopes and aspirations" to something, the picture becomes even more alarming and one realizes that "yeshivas" not always teach Torah. By this I don't only mean Haredi establishments that refuse to recognize the nationalistic aspects in Torah, but the many religious Zionist yeshivot that teach allegiance to the State and not to Hashem, that frankly, seems to me pretty much a Reform style innovation of a new messianism we call Zionism.

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