A clarification: Rabbi Anna’s message last week was from a speech she gave at a vigil on Friday, June 12, at the Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown, protesting the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees being held in U.S. detention centers. Our apologies for any confusion.
This week in the Jewish calendar we enter a period called the “Three Weeks,” the period leading up to the commemoration of
, the day of the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. This three-week period commemorates the time from when the walls of Jerusalem were breached up to the date of the actual destruction. This traditionally is a sad, heavy time of year, even as many of us enjoy the ease of summertime.
The ancient rabbis ask, "Why were the Temples destroyed? What could have caused the annihilation of such a holy place?" Among many answers the rabbis offer, one stands out:
- "baseless hatred." Unreasoned hatred of those within our community as well as people we consider foreign or “other,” the rabbis argue, is so destructive that it can even undermine a society structured on good principles and counteract the good actions of some of its members.
Today, in this country, we are seeing exactly this same, destructive force being deployed: unreasoned hatred of others, expressed through racism and bigotry, vitriol and lies. Jews have heard the refrain, “Go back to where you came from,” and we know where such talk leads. We have seen this before, not only at the time of the destruction of the Temples, but in every age and in every place where we have lived, including in the United States. We know how dangerous it is to others and to us, and we know how much it violates the principles of Torah that we hold dear. We must condemn it and fight it with all of our power.
That said, we must stand for something greater, something good. We cannot only condemn and resist. So at this spiritual low point of the year, let us lift up our eyes and strive for
– “baseless love,” or loving others freely without judgment. Let us raise our voices in concern and love and respect for one another, guarding against the inclination to create an us vs. them mentality. Let us strive to live this love in our actions large and small – acknowledging the reality that, if we are to get ourselves out of this mess, we need to realize how inescapably interconnected and interconnected we really are.