This Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of consolation. We, as a Jewish people, are supposed to be so bereft by the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem that even these many years later we need to be consoled. Unfortunately, this year, even without the Temple, there is much that we need consoling about.
It is said that the Temple was destroyed through Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred of one Jew for another. But as we see, Sinat Chinam does not just have to be Jew on Jew. Sadly, hatred is alive and well in Jerusalem today and around the world. As previously discussed in this space, non-Orthodox Jews continue to be marginalized by the Israeli government. In Facebook discussions I have seen Reform Jews referred to as “false Jews.” If that is not enough, just yesterday on Tu B’Av, the Jewish Valentine’s Day, a man stabbed 6 people at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. Yes, all the big rabbis and government officials condemned the attack. But did they play a role in provoking it? It looked like a beautiful day for a parade and then this man (I’d rather not mention his name) attacked. This person was recently released from jail for doing the same thing at the 2005 parade. And why? Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred.
Yesterday we also learned that a Palestinian child was burned alive in the West Bank. The cause was an arson attack by Jews who thought the Palestinians shouldn’t be there. The child’s family is in the hospital. And why? Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred.
On Tisha B’Av, Muslim youths were prepared to throw rocks and fireworks from the Temple mount down to the Jews praying below. And why? Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred.
In Modiin, also on Tisha B’Av, a Conservative synagogue was booby trapped. Doors were blocked so people could not leave. And when they finally did, they found obstacles such as flower pots and ropes in their way. Imagine the fear of being locked inside that building. Although the perpetrators have not been caught, it is thought that they were Orthodox youths who were not accepting any other type of Judaism than their own. Wasn’t Modiin the home of the Maacabees who fought for religious freedom? And why? Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred.
And it’s not just in Israel. I could go on. Sarah Bland. The A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Marine base in Chattanooga. Where will it end?
In the Torah, right in the first chapter of Bereshit (Genesis), we learn that we are all “created in God’s image.” Not just some, but all. Perhaps those who say they are acting in God’s name should remember that when they kill, when they maim, when they judge, they are doing it to someone who is Godly. Shabbat Nachamu. If only that were enough.