Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Kiryat Arba 7 Av 5759
Antidote to the "Weeping of the Generations"
By Rabbi Eliezer Waldman
The prophet Zecharia has promised that the fast days commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple will be transformed into days of celebration. The verse expressing this prophesy ends with the words, "And you should love the truth and peace". The connection between these words and the prophesy requires an explanation. Our sages teach us that the fast is not a goal in and of itself, but a means to arouse us to repent on the sins that were the cause of the destruction. Only by rectifying our deeds and restoring complete faith in our G-d can we bring about the rebuilding of the holy Temple. Many sins are mentioned as the causes of the destruction of the Bet Ha Mikdash. Among the sins that brought about this national calamity, our sages point out two major ones.
First is the sin of the spies whom Moses had sent to scout out the Land. Upon returning to Moses and the Jewish People, they expressed a lack of faith in G-d by declaring, "We will not be able to go up and inherit the Land because they are stronger than Him," (Numbers 13:31). Worse then that, they incited the Jewish People against going up to the Land. The Torah describes the response of the Jewish People, "And the people wept that night." (Numbers 14:1). Our sages tell us that night was the night of Tisha b'Av, and G-d said to them, "Since you cried needlessly on this night, I will arrange good reason for your crying in future generations." (Tractate Taanit, 29). The lesson to be learned is that our lack of faith is the root of all tragedies. The refusal to believe in G-d's ability to keep His Promise that we will inherit the Land despite all obstacles, was what brought about the destruction of the Temple on Tisha b'Av.
The second major sin is described in the Talmud, Tractate Yoma 9, which states that the second Temple was destroyed because of the sin of unfounded hatred (sinat chinam). At the time of the first Temple, Jews were guilty of committing the three cardinal sins for which a Jew is commanded to give up his life rather than to commit them, idol worship, sexual immorality, and murder. Yet, despite this, our Rabbis tell us that the sin of hating your fellow Jew is weighed against all of these sins. We are taught by our sages that HaShem pleads with the Jewish People, that even if we abandon Him, at least we should continue to be united in love for one another. When Jews are united in love, they are more open to be influenced by the teachings of the rabbis. Thus they are more likely to be inspired to strengthen their faith in G-d and adhere to His Commands.
HaRav Kook, z"tl, has taught us that the only way to remove every trace of this "sinat chinam" is to fill our hearts with simple love for every Jew, "ahavat chinam". This unconditional love for every Jew stems from our belief that a Divine spark kindles in every Jewish soul. This love cannot be dependent upon the degree of his faith or Jewish observance, and it is a prerequisite for the return of G-d to Zion and the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.
The sin of the spies is eroding the Jewish soul to this day. That lack of faith in the Divine character of Eretz Yisrael and its power to create a complete Jewish life for our people is still the cause of our national weakness today. The lack of Jewish pride, the willingness to surrender our rights to our land, the unwillingness to fight for what is ours, all this is a result of the sin of the spies which still weakens the faith among some of our leaders. This cancer must be removed from the soul of our people. Our faith must be strengthened by opening our eyes to the Divine dimension of the Zionist process in our time. The ingathering of the exiles; the establishment of Jewish independence in Eretz Yisrael; transforming the Jewish State into the spiritual Torah center of the Jewish People; defeating overwhelming enemies who rose up to destroy us; and the return of Jewish life to the heart of Eretz Yisrael, Judea and Samaria; these miracles must strengthen our faith in this G-dly process of redemption. The recognition of these truths by our people will restore Jewish pride and give our leaders the strength and determination to defend our rights to our Land. This will finally remove the sin of the spies and the weeping of the generations will be transformed into joyous celebration.
Now we understand why the prophecy of the fast days being transformed into days of celebration ends with the words, "And you should love the truth and peace". The only way to achieve the fulfillment of this prophecy is by rectifying the two major sins that created the fast days. The sins of hatred, sinat chinam at the time of the second Temple and the rejection of the G-dly command to inherit the Jewish Land by the Jews in the days of the spies must be converted into a flowing stream of faith in G-d and love for the Jewish People.
That is why the prophet Zecharia mentions the two principles of truth and peace. By truth he means the Truth of Torah, and of Eretz Yisrael. And by peace, he means peace and love among the Jewish People. By adhering to these principles we will succeed in bringing the blessing of peace to the peoples of the world.
"Thus said the L-rd of Hosts, the fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the House of Judah joy and gladness and cheerful feasts, And you should love the truth and peace." Zecharia 8:19