As our traditional three weeks of mourning culminated with Tisha b’Av and its commemoration of destruction last Saturday night, our nation is still reeling from the horrors of yet more unbearable acts of gun violence, at least one motivated by racial hatred. Jews, Muslims, African Americans, members of the LGBTQ community and immigrants have all been targets of hateful rhetoric and violent, hateful acts. So many people across the country and the globe are feeling unsafe, afraid and traumatized. On Wednesday a Boulder man was arrested who the FBI are treating as a potential domestic terrorist targeting Jews, Muslims and immigrants. It is terrifying.
The rabbis teach that even though it was the Romans who destroyed the Second Temple in the year 70, the energetic force that allowed the destruction was sinat chinam, causeless hatred between Jew and Jew. Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine, said that the only way to conquer sinat chinam is through ahavat chinam, causeless love to drown out the causeless hatred. We see and hear the hate everywhere; it is loud and unbearable and comes from the highest places.
Yes, we need to demand more of our elected officials to pass sensible gun laws and yes we need to protest against injustice and hate crimes; yes we need to do all we can to keep our institutions safe. And this hour is also demanding of us that we speak to and about each other with words of love, beginning in our own families and communities and extending into all communities, whatever they believe and whoever they love. Whatever rituals, fasting and services we performed on this day of commemoration, that simple act is the deepest spiritual work of Tisha b’Av.
May we be creative and courageous in transforming hatred into love.