By Rabbi David Shasho
The second Bet HaMikdash was destroyed for the sin of baseless hatred. Does that mean that if we have a reason to hate another Jew then it is justified? In this week’s Parashah Moshe Rabeinu rebukes the Jewish people through very vague words by listing the places they sinned in order to protect the honor of Bnei Yisrael and avoids mentioning the actual sins. Before the Jewish people went into Eretz Yisrael, they were not responsible for each other’s sins. Once they crossed the Jordan river, all the Jewish people became united as one and were responsible for one another. (This is detailed in Yehoshua when the Jews crossed the Jordan river and stood at Har Gerizim and Har Eival.) Therefore Moshe Rabeinu did not write the sins openly because each individual person would be judged differently.
There is no question that one of the most important foundations in Judaism is that we are responsible for one another. If this is true then it is our obligation to treat every Jew we meet with respect and to go out of our way and help everyone like family. The Afikei Yehudah on this week’s Parashah says that the Jewish people are compared to the sand in the sea and to the stars in the heavens. The nature of sand is that it travels together with every movement always united. Whereas the stars by nature are very far apart from one another and are like entire worlds on their own. When the Jewish people were unified together Moshe said I can lead you all, but when they were far apart from each other וָאֹמַ֣ר אֲלֵכֶ֔ם בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖וא לֵאמֹ֑ר לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל לְבַדִּ֖י שְׂאֵ֥ת אֶתְכֶֽם׃ Thereupon I said to you, “I cannot bear the burden of you by myself”. “For Hashem has multiplied you as many as the stars in the sky”. Moshe was saying you were so separate from one another I could not lead you myself. אֵיכָ֥ה אֶשָּׂ֖א לְבַדִּ֑י טָרְחֲכֶ֥ם וּמַֽשַּׂאֲכֶ֖ם וְרִֽיבְכֶֽם׃ How can I bear unaided the trouble of you, and the burden, and the bickering! Due to so much quarreling the Seforno says Moshe had been forced to appoint a large number of judges. In order to take control there had to be one judge for every ten people.
The Torah says – לֺא תִשְׂנָא אֶת אַחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” . There really is no reason to hate another Jew. Whether he hurt you, hit you, stole from you, or embarrassed you. No one can touch you or anything that belongs to you unless it is Hashem’s will. If someone does steal from you it was written in Shamayim that you were supposed to lose that money. Hashem used that person to carry out his will. If you will ask, isn’t this person sinning by stealing? Yes he is and because perhaps this person is a habitual thief Hashem causes him to sin again. Doing one sin leads to another ”עַבֵירָה גֺורֶרֶת עַבֵירָה“ and they will be punished later for it. Hashem has sent this person to to make you lose the money to atone for something you have done.
The most important thing we need to work on during the 9 days is our relationship with our fellow man, how we treat other people. Hashem is more concerned when it comes to the relationship between us and our friends than the relationship between us and Hashem. Many people’s main focus in life is working to get close to Hashem. In Shamayim the focus is on how we treat each other. A relationship with Hashem is difficult to grasp and He easily forgives us if we don’t reach our spiritual goals. But with man we have the ability to understand each other and are therefore responsible for how we care for one another.
Bearing hatred upon someone will only lead to more hatred and many sins in the process.The Orchot Tsadikim says ”It is proper for a person to separate himself from all these evils and receive with love all that the Creator decrees for him. And he should not place his trust in man but should think, ‘If I were indeed worthy in Hashem’s eyes, He would give my needs to me regardless of the refusal of man to give or loan me anything.’ And if he is poor and in distress or if he is ill and severely pained by great pains, he should think that the Creator has decreed this for his good that he might learn to receive Hashem’s will with love. And there is no doubt that, when he does this, all hatred will depart from his heart. This acceptance of God’s will with love is a great foundation and mighty pillar for Torah and Commandments. He who disciplines himself to receive everything with love and to say at every occasion and mischance, גַם זוּ לְטֺובָה “This, too, is for good” (Ta’anith 21a), with meaning this in his heart and while rejoicing in the judgment of the Creator will be saved from hatred, enmity and jealousy.”
Let us rid ourselves of the quarreling, the bickering, and hatred of each other. Let us rather accept what Hashem has planned for us and treat every Jew with love and respect, like family. We are all responsible for one another. Let us unite like the sand in the sea and no matter what wave hits us we will always come back together. Through this great unity we will bring the Mashiach speedily in our days.