We’re about to enter that period in our calendar known as the “Three Weeks” – a time of mourning for the destruction of our Holy Temples, as well as many other subsequent tragic events.
The Talmud relates in the tractate Gittin a story that is doubtless well known to many of you, but I’ll repeat it briefly here.
Event of the year
A gentleman of the “hi-society” set in Jerusalem throws a party to which he invites all the local celebrities. He sends a servant to invite a friend by the name of Kamtza. But the messenger erroneously delivers it to a guy with a similar name – Bar Kamtza.
This is a fatal mistake because Bar Kamtza happens to be a sworn enemy of our host.
Thinking that his adversary is interested in a reconciliation, BK makes his way happily to the event of the year.
However, our host turns white when he notices BK, and demands that he leaves the premises immediately, if not sooner. Anxious to avoid the embarrassment of eviction, BK offers to pay for his meal if allowed to stay, then half the cost of the banquet, then the entire cost of the whole affair – food, rental, the works! But all his pleas fall on deaf ears.
So a deeply humiliated BK quickly makes his exit – but not before noticing that those esteemed rabbis sitting up there at the top table have been looking the other way during the entire exchange.
Beginning of the end
Enraged, BK makes a beeline for the Roman rulers of Eretz Yisrael, and reports that a Jewish rebellion against the government is underway.
How does he know? “Well,” he tells them, “why don’t you send an offering as a tribute to the Beis HaMikdash – the Holy Temple of the Jews – and see if they will accept it by placing it on the altar?”
As it happens, the Jews don’t accept it! But unbeknown to the Romans, a devious BK, who was appointed by the Romans to deliver the choice lamb they had selected, had secretly “doctored” the imperial sacrifice on the way to make it ritually unfit for offering on the altar.
All hell breaks loose and a horrific train of events is set in motion, leading to the inferno that engulfs Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews from their land.
Now, when the late Rabbi Shalom Schwadron zt”l would refer to this tragic incident during the fiery sermons that made him famous as the Maggid of Jerusalem, he would often ask a rather unexpected question:
“Do you know what I would have done to that Bar Kamtza, had I been able to lay my hands on him?” he would roar.
“You know what? I would have beaten that guy black and blue! I would make mincemeat of the man, I would have torn every bone from his body!
“OK, granted, what that party-thrower did to him that evening was a terrible thing, and what those cowardly rabbis did – or rather didn’t do, was even worse.
“But to put the lives of thousands of Jews into jeopardy like that – well, that’s what we would call a rodef. And on such a mind-boggling and unprecedented scale!”
“Just one problem though…”
At this point, Rabbi Schwadron would pause for a minute or two, and appear to be deep in thought. Then he would resume his drosha, but in a much softer tone.
“I’ve just given you an idea of how I would rule, if Bar Kamtza would appear before a court on which I would be sitting as judge. Yes, but you know, there’s just one problem here…
“The Ribono Shel Olam, the Master of the Universe – he doesn’t rule like me!!”
Indeed, on account of the deep hatred that found its expression at that fateful banquet – the epitome of the senseless and causeless hatred that was the social cancer of that entire generation – the Creator of the World felt compelled to decree the destruction of His own House. Not to mention various other terrible events from which we are suffering to this very day.
So what can we do?
Why am I repeating all this? Certainly not to make you depressed. Depression is the tool of the yatzer ho’ra, the evil inclination.Rather, my intention is to motivate.
Is there a remedy for causeless hatred?
Sure. You’ll find a clue in the heading to this article.
It all depends on us! May we merit to bring about the complete reversal of Hashem’s 2000-year-old decree, very, very, quickly.
About the Author
Azriel Winnett is the creator and publisher of
Hodu.com – Your Communication Skills Portal, a web site devoted to helping you improve your communication and relationship skills on all levels.