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  • The Baseless Hatred Mystery Revealed

    by Shemuel haKatan

     Our Chachamim z"l tell us that the First Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because of three sins: Avodah Zarah/Idolatry, Shefichat Damim/Murder, and Arayot/Adultery. The second Temple of only one sin - Sinat Chinam - Baseless Hatred.

    Each of the sins are bad in their own right, but it took three sins to bring down the First Temple and only one the Second. Why? Why only one, what is so destructive and bad about it?

    Let's dive into Sinat Chinam cause I believe the reasons for the destruction of the First Temple are pretty self explanatory.

    So what is Sinat Chinam? It is Baseless Hatred or simply Hate that is coming from a place of evil. It's a wish to see another's demise or failure and when you in that hating mode you observe and translate anything that person does to negative with no benefit of a doubt.

    When you hate you always pursue the harm of another. You speak of him in harmful way, you make up stories so you get more people on your side to believe the lies, so he can have enemies. You speak and spread lashon hara - an evil speech, because you want others to see him in a bad way. You may say things to his spouse, so the family will have no peace and eventually falls apart. You accuse him and his children, so it should effect their shidduchim/marriage prospects. You make sure his reputation is ruined in his community and places of business. You make sure your family and people around him show him a cold shoulder so he feels unwanted and unbelonged.

    All of this is done stealthily where few people involved in the community or many across many communities. In our times, all of the above can be accomplished with just few clicks of the computer or the phone.

    Because of this ugly behavior, of the few or the many, Hashem has destroyed the Second Temple. So if the Temple is destroyed and it may seem like nothing is at stake today, what do we have to lose this time around?

    Chachamim tell us, that when a new family is born, the chatan and kallah are on their way to build something enormously holy - their Own Bet Hamikdash, where each room of their house resembles the original Temple. The bedroom is like the Holy of Holies, the living room table is like a Mizbeach where we cater the guests and consume our earthly sacrifices. Kitchen is where it's all prepared to the strict laws of kashrut.

    Our houses and shules are small Batey haMikdashim. This is where Shechina rests, this is where the mitzvot are done and kedusha is kept.

    Hashem wants peace and unity between people in the community or between communities, where people help each other, happy for each other, where they see good in each other with no jealousy and hate towards each other. Where they want others to have better houses, cars, vacations, respect and accessories. This is what Hashem expects from his people.

    Second Temple was destroyed because of Hate, the most ugliest trait that consumes many communities and people no matter their religious backgrounds. The solution to it is Achavat Chinam - Baseless Love. Otherwise our small Batey haMikdashim are at stake.

    The Sages taught, "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

    Our job is to change for the better, to do good to others, more of baseless love and no hate and animosity towards others - be it in their own community or outside of it, better ourselves in our servitude to Hashem and earn the merit to see Moshiach and the Third Beit Hamikdash rebuilt in our days. Amen.


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  • Беспричинная ненависть или что на кону?

    Шемуэль Катанов

    Наши мудрецы рассказывают что Первый Храм был разрушен из за трёх нарушений: поклонению идолам, убийствам и прелюбодеянию. Второй Храм был разрушен только из за одного греха - Синат Хинам - Беспричинная Ненависть.

    Все грехи из за которых был разрушен Первый Храм плохи сами по себе, но я хотел бы поговорить только об одном грехе который называется - беспричинной ненавистью. Давайте разберём его по деталям.

    Так что же является Синат Хинам? Это беспричинная ненависть или просто ненависть которая выходит из корня зла внутри человека. Это желание увидеть смерть или неудачу своего врага и когда человек в этом состоянии, всё что бы не делал "его враг" он будет воспринимать всё как негативное и никогда не усомнится в правоте своих убеждений и всегда найдёт защиту своим проступкам.

    Когда человек ненавидит, он всегда старается навредить своей жертве. Он говорит о нём плохо, выдумывает ложные истории чтоб иметь больше людей на своей стороне и чтоб у его жертвы было много врагов. Говорит и распространяет о нём лашон ара - злословие, слухи и сплетни - этим ломая и не обращая никакого внимания на множество законов Торы и мудрецов. Он делает всё чтоб разрушить его семью и сломать гармонию и мир его дома. Он портит ему репутацию в его общине и в месте где он зарабатывает свой хлеб. Он убеждает свою семью и людей вокруг чтоб к нему относились плохо. Это и многое другое делается скрытно и этим занимаются несколько людей в общине или многие во многих общинах.

    Из за этого уродливого поведения этих людей, Вс-вышний разрушил Второй Храм. Так если два Храма уже разрушены и нет ничего другого чего Вс-вышний может у нас отнять сегодня, получается что мы неприкосновенны и нам нечего бояться?!

    Мудрецы говорят, когда рождается новая семья, муж и жена создают и строят что-то грандиозно большое и святое - их собственный Бет Хамикдаш - Храм, где каждая комната у них в доме подразумевает тот оригинальный Храм. Спальня это Святая  Святых, стол в зале - это Мизбеях там мы принимаем гостей  и поглощаем наши земные приношения. Кухня это место где всё приготавливается по всем строгим законам кашрута.

    Наши дома, синагоги и религиозные заведения являются теми маленькими Батэй Микдашим - нашими Храмами. Эти места где находится присутствие Вс-вышнего, где делаются митцвот и где прибывает Святость.

    Вс-вышний хочет мира и единства между людьми в общине и между общинами, где люди помогают друг другу, рады за других, где видят только хорошее в других без зависти и ненависти к другим. Где они желают другим лучшие дома, машины, отпуска, уважение и тому подобное. Всё это и многое другое Вс-вышний не хочет а требует от нас.

    Второй Храм был разрушен из за ненависти, которая является самой уродливой чертой, которая поглощает многие общины и людей не зависимо от их уровня религиозности. Избавление от этого недуга является Ахават Хинам - Беспричинной Любовью.

    Наши Мудрецы говорят, "В том поколении в котором Храм не был построен, как будто он был разрушен в их дни" (Иерусалимский Талмуд, Трактам Ёма страница 1а). Потому что это поколение следует по тем же стопам тех поколений из за которых был разрушен Храм, не стараясь исправить их ошибки.

    Продолжая этим путём, мы ставим свои маленькие Батэй Микдашим - храмы под удар. 

    Наша работа состоит в том чтоб измениться в лучшую сторону делая хорошие дела, уважать и помогать другим просто так, отречься от ненависти и злобы - к членам своей общины и к окружающим, улучшить нашу службу к Вс-вышнему и заслужить увидеть Мошияха, избавления и построения Третьего Храма в наши дни.

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  • Lifting Heads

    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

     The word Naso that gives its name to this week’s parsha is a verb of an extraordinary range of meanings, among them: to lift, to carry, and to forgive. Here though, and elsewhere in the wilderness years, it is used, in conjunction with the phrase et rosh (“the head”) to mean “to count.” This is an odd way of speaking, because biblical Hebrew is not short of other verbs meaning to count, among them limnot, lispor, lifkod, and lachshov. Why then not use one of these verbs? Why not simply say “count” instead of “lift the head”?

    The answer takes us into one of the most revolutionary of all Jewish beliefs. If we are each in the image of God, then every one of us has infinite value. We are each unique. Even genetically identical twins share only approximately 50 percent of their attributes. None of us is substitutable for any other. This may well be the single most important consequence of monotheism. Discovering God, singular and alone, our ancestors discovered the human individual, singular and alone.

    This was simply not a value in the ancient world, nor is it one in tyrannical or totalitarian societies today. The ruler might be deemed to have infinite value; so might some of the members of his or her court; but certainly not the masses – as the word “mass” itself implies. Most people were simply regarded as part of a mass: an army, a work force or a gang of slaves. What mattered was their total number, not their individual lives, their hopes and fears, their loves and dreams.

    That is the image we have of Egypt of the Pharaohs. It is how the sages understood the builders of Babel. They said that if a brick fell from the tower they wept. If a worker fell and died, they paid no attention.[1] Almost a hundred million people died in the twentieth century in Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s Communist China and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. We say of such regimes that people became “just numbers.”[2] That is what the Torah is rejecting as a matter of supreme religious principle. At the very moment when one might be maximally tempted to see people as “just numbers” – namely, when taking a census, as here – the Israelites were commanded to “lift people’s heads,” to raise their spirits, to make them feel they counted as individuals, not numbers in a mass, ciphers in a crowd.

    In the course of my life I have had several deep conversations with Christians, and there is one aspect of Judaism that they find very difficult to understand. The conversation usually turns to the central figure of Christianity, and I am often asked, do I believe that he was the son of God. “I do indeed,” I reply, “because we believe that every Jew is a son or daughter of God.” What Christianity applies to one figure in its faith, we apply to all. Where Christianity transcendentalises, Judaism democratises. My conversation partners often think I am being evasive, finding a polite way to avoid answering the question. In fact, though, the opposite is true.

    The first words God commands Moses to say to Pharaoh were, “My child, My firstborn, Israel” (Ex. 4:22). In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites, “You are children of the Lord your God” (Deut. 14:1). “Beloved are Israel,” said Rabbi Akiva, “for they are called God’s children.”[3] One of the key phrases of prayer, Avinu malkenu, “Our Father, our King,” encapsulates this in two simple words. We are all royalty. We are each children of the King.

    To be sure, this is not the only metaphor for our relationship with God. He is also our Sovereign and we are His servants. He is our shepherd and we are His sheep. These evoke more humility than the image of parent-and-child. What is more, when God saw the first human without a partner He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” The Torah is thus signalling one of the defining tensions of all human life: we are independent but we are also interdependent. Our thoughts and feelings belong to the “I,” but much of our existence depends on being part of a “We.” Despite its unprecedented estimate of the individual, Judaism is at the same time an irreducibly communal faith. There is no “I” without the “we.”

    The Hassidic master Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Przysucha nicely summed up the Jewish approach to the value of a life. He said that we should each have two pockets. In one we should place a piece of paper with the words: “For my sake was the world created.”[4] In the other should be the words: “I am but dust and ashes.”[5] We are unique. We each have non-negotiable dignity and inalienable rights. But in and of ourselves we are nothing. Our greatness comes not from us but from God. That is the dialectic of life in the conscious presence of our mortality and God’s eternity.

    The point being made by the Torah, though, is that what matters is not how we see ourselves but how we see, and treat, and behave toward others. The world is not short of self-important people. What it is short of is those who make other people feel important – who “lift their heads.”

    I will never forget the occasion when Prince Charles, at a banquet given by the Jewish community, spent as much time talking to the young schoolchildren who came to sing in a choir as he did to the great and good among the guests, or when he came to a Jewish primary school and lit Chanukah candles with the children, giving each the chance to tell him who they were and what the festival meant to them. That, at least in Britain, is what royalty is and does. Members of the royal family make other people feel important. That is their work, their service, their role. It is the true meaning of royalty. Watching them, you understand Rabbi Yohanan’s fine insight that “greatness is humility.”[6] You understand also Ben Zoma’s axiom: “Who is honoured? One who honours others.”[7]

    The challenge that emerges from the way the Torah describes taking a census is that we must “lift people’s heads.” Never let them feel merely a number. Make those you meet feel important, especially the people whom others tend to take for granted: the waiters at a communal meal; the woman who takes your coat in a cloakroom; the shammas in the synagogue; the people doing security duty; the caretaker; the most junior member of the office team, and so on. Make eye contact. Smile. Let them know you do not take them for granted. You appreciate them. They matter as individuals.

    For this is the life-changing idea: We are as important as we make other people feel.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

     

    [1] Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer, 24.
    [2] As Jews were in Auschwitz.
    [3] Mishnah Avot 3:14.
    [4] Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5.
    [5] Genesis 18:27.
    [6]Megillah 31a.
    [7] Mishnah Avot 4:1.

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