In the past, Tishah B’av has been known “as the darkest hour of the Jewish calendar – the black fast.” On this day noted calamities in Jewish history occurred: the destruction of both Temples, the expulsion from Spain, the murders of the Jews by Crusaders, the Holocaust horrors. The important emphasis on this Tisha B’Av is recalling that the Second Temple, according to tradition, was destroyed by sinat hinam – baseless hatred, one Jew for another.
Jeremy Sharon, religion reporter for Jerusalem Post, began his article July 22, “that the Jewish people have not overcome their frequent hostility to one another, particularly over matters of religion.”
The examples to buttress his point are quite sad. Haredi MK Yinon Azoulay said “non-Orthodox Jews are responsible for the recent earthquakes in northern Israel.” National Orthodox MK Bezalel Smotrich called progressive Judaism, “fake religion.” Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem has said “progressive Jews poison the wells of holiness and are taking their followers to hell.”
Just a few days ago, Conservative Rabbi Dov Haiyun was awakened at 5 a.m. and arrested by police. His crime: officiating a few years ago at a wedding in Israel that was not registered with the Chief Rabbinate.
On Tisha B’Av in Israel we mourned even more intensely because we realize that “baseless hatred” is very much alive here.
Listen to the words of noted rabbis. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said, “Reform and Conservative Judaism is not Judaism.” So according to him, their followers have no right interfering with the Western Wall. Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern said, “the Western Wall is not a place for compromises since it is the holiest place for the Jewish people –men and women have to be separated.”
Rabbi David Golinkin, the head of the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem, affiliated with Conservative Judaism, offered a most significant insight.
“We are supposed to be united, but that does not mean that we have to think and act the same.” Continuing, he noted, “the idea that there is a one-size-for-all Judaism, that we should all do the same and act the same is in opposition to all Jewish legal and halachic history. Hillel and Shammai did disagree.”
On Tisha B’Av here in Israel, there is hatred rather than concern for one another, and there is horrendous bitterness rather than mourning this day in a united fashion. It is my hope that G-d will help us be “one” before we destroy ourselves.