A call for unity this Tisha b’Av

Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples, has been molded it into a day of general mourning for Jewish tragedies. Consequently, various organizations and rabbis have called for reflection today.

Yair Rosenberg offers a take on the traditional view that baseless hatred caused the destruction of the temple. The antidote, therefore, is senseless love. Rosenberg points out that, ironically, many use this insight to note how others practice baseless hatred. Tisha b’Av then becomes a time to malign others, without looking inwards.

Which makes this joint statement on Tisha b’Av from the OU and the RCA all the more refreshing:

We urge all Jews to celebrate the diversity of our community, whatever our ideology or choice of head covering. Each of us — men, women and children — is a cherished member of our people and we must educate all members of our community to honor and respect each other. We pray that all will one day soon glory in the rebuilding of our nation and our Temple.

We recall the teaching of our sages who noted that the Second Temple was destroyed due to the sin of “sinat chinam” — unprovoked enmity. We therefore, on this eve of Tisha B’Av, call on all individuals and organizations to join us in in dedicating our efforts to creating a world filled with “ahavat chinam” — unqualified love for one another.

Read the full statement here.

Emily Hauser, at the Daily Beast, says the call for unity is a dream that cannot exist in the real world. Trying to eliminate intra-Jewish hatred is a fool’s errand. Taking a more pragmatic approach, she says the answer is religious freedom in Israel, ensuring not that Jews don’t hate one another, but that all people’s rights are protected.

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