Yes, I know it’s Monday, but I wanted to get this idea out into the interweb before the fast starts tonight.
Well, that’s not the only reason the redemption hasn’t come yet (sorry). We’re also still in exile because of sinas chinam – baseless hatred. Baseless hatred is one of the things that destroyed our Temple. In fact, it is the sole reason our second Temple was destroyed. It’s actually equal to all three sins which destroyed the first Temple (murder, idolatry and adultery/incest). That’s pretty serious (obviously).
So, what is sinas chinam – baseless hatred? It doesn’t just mean “oh, I hate her because she stole my bangs” or “I hate him because his shirt is too loud.” The English translation of the word chinam into “baseless” is misleading. Literally, sinas chinam means “free hatred,” a hatred which is free flowing. This can be hatred that has a seemingly valid reason. Like if someone slighted you, insulted you, offended you or was inconsiderate of your feelings. Those are all reasonable reasons to have negative feelings toward someone, right?
However, the Talmud ties sinas chinam to the notion of hiding one’s hatred, and seforim such as Kad Hakemach and Ahavas Yisrael link sinas chinam to the prohibition of hating a fellow Jew in your heart.
It’s understandable to be upset when upsetting things happen, when people act in a manner which is inappropriate, inconsiderate, or just plain mean. I wish I could say that I’ve never held a grudge, that I’ve never been so mad at a fellow Jew that I couldn’t see straight. But I’ve been there, unfortunately.
In situations that are difficult, it’s good to take some advice from my friend Ruchi, who asks “How’s that working out for you?” Indeed, holding onto the frustration and hurt feelings, the grudge, the negativity, replaying the upsetting interactions in my mind over and over again, how was that working out for me? Not well. It made me tense and easily upset (the only plus side was that due to the anxiety I lost some weight).
So I davened. A lot. A whole lot. I also consulted my Rebbetzin about the situation, who was able to give me Torah guidance for dealing with it. And over time, things did get better. It also helped to put it in perspective – my holding onto those negative feelings was preventing the redemption from coming. What? How’s that for perspective?
You know that roommate/friend/sibling/in-law/acquaintance who has upset you in some way? Ask yourself if the anger and frustration you’re holding onto, that grudge, those negative emotions, whatever it is, are they worth not having the Beis HaMikdash? Hmm? Is stewing over not being invited to a bar mitzvah equal to not bringing Moshiach? Is being upset at a pestering relative worth forfeiting the redemption?
No, it’s not.
So, please, do your best to try to forgive that person in your life who is difficult, who is maybe even impossible. We all have them (hopefully we aren’t them…). Moshiach’s not gonna come until everyone is playing nice with each other. Yes, it’s not easy. Yes, some people don’t know how to apologize. Yes, feelings have gotten hurt and misunderstandings galore have occurred, and perhaps words have been spoken that should not have been, or actions done which have caused a seemingly irreparable breach.
If you can be the first to make a step towards reconciliation, think of the bracha and shalom you will bring into the world. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do anything wrong, you can still apologize. Hurt feelings, even if you don’t think they are valid, are STILL hurt feelings for that person. That’s a concept that helps me apologize when I don’t exactly feel like it.
May you have a meaningful fast, and may next Tisha B’Av be a day of simcha!
image via Wikipedia