The Chilling Truth - Devarim
אֵיכָה אֶשָּׂא לְבַדִּי טָרְחֲכֶם וּמַשַּׂאֲכֶם וְרִיבְכֶם (דברים א, יב)
This year Shabbat parshat Devarim falls on Tisha Be’av and the fast is delayed until Motzei Shabbat.
Today’s shiur is about Tisha Be’Av and reveals a truth about the destruction of Bayit Sheini that is chilling to the core, to help us understand what we are truly mourning. However, the true purpose of this shiur is for the day after Tisha Be’Av and the days after that ….. (assuming of course that Mashiach has not arrived by then). This shiur is longer than normal, as it is meant to be read on Shabbat and Tisha Be’Av.
Let’s begin with a Gemara (Menahot 11b) –
אמר ליה אביי לרבא, כיצד קומצין? אמר ליה כדקמצי אינשי. וכו'
This sugya deals with the method of doing a Kmitza - taking a “handful” measurement of solet, levonah, etc. for a Mincha. I have already covered this in detail in my shiur on parshat Vayikra, but I will briefly recap.
There are two opinions how one does a Kmitza. The first opinion (Rava, Rav Pappa) says that it is using all 5 fingers in the hand to grasp the ingredient against the palm (like a fist). The second opinion (Abayei) says that it is using only the middle three fingers of the hand to grasp the ingredient against the palm and that the thumb and the pinky finger are “wiggled around” on either side to rub off any excess.
What has Kmitza got to do with Tisha Be’Av?
Before we get into that, it is necessary to relate the series of events that transpired on the 2nd and 6th days of Creation, (as described in sefer Meir Panim).
This whole episode is very difficult to understand if we think of a “day” as the 24 hours we are familiar with. If, however, we consider the principle in Tehilim (90,4) כי אלף שנים בעיניך כיום אתמול כי יעבר, that one day in HKB”H’s eyes is like a thousand years in our reckoning, when you think in these terms, it makes more sense (However, it may well be that it was a 24 hour “day”, mamash).
On the 2nd day, although it is not mentioned in the psukkim in Breishit, Chazal tell us that HKB”H also created the angels.
Before creating man on the 6th day, HKB”H consulted with the angels (Yalkut Shimoni, Breishit 1, 26). One faction of the angels advised against creating man, saying - מה אנוש כי תזכרנו ובן אדם כי תפקדנו (תהילים ח, ה). HKB”H “burnt them with his finger”. Similarly with a second faction. The third faction said “What good did it do that the first two advised against it? The entire world is Yours, HKB”H. Do whatever You will in Your world!”
One of the angels (perhaps the leader) in this third faction was an angel called ס"מ. This is an abbreviation of the real name. According to the Ari z”l it is forbidden to speak (or write) the full name. Unlike the other angels who have six wings, this angel ס"מ has twelve and is in charge of the 5th of the seven levels in Heaven, called מעון, where שמחה originates from. This is why we say שהשמחה במעונו. It may seem strange that the ס"מ, who is also called מלאך המוות and the יצר הרע should be in charge of the source of happiness in Heaven, when we tend to regard the ס"מ as “grim”. However, it is not strange at all, as we will see later on.
To create Adam Harishon, HKB”H did Kmitza from the earth. He gathered dust from all corners of the earth, using the five fingered Kmitza method. This dust was mixed with water into a kind of clay. HKB”H “breathed” into this “clay” נשמת חיים and Adam was created. For this reason Adam Harishon is called חלתו של עולם, because HKB”H did “hafrashat challah” from the earth to create him (Or HaChayim). Therefore, when we do hafrashat challah, we do so, using the 5 finger Kmitza method, taking a handful from the dough.
The first commandment HKB”H gave to Adam Harishon was פרו ורבו. You would think that Adam’s first order of business would be to do HKB”H’s bidding. When Hashem commanded Avraham Avinu to sacrifice Yitzchak, the passuk says וישכם אברהם בבקר, Avraham woke early that morning, eager to fulfill HKB”H’s commandment. However, we know that Adam was not diligent in performing פרו ורבו. How do we know this? Because only after Adam and Chava were later expelled from Gan Eden does the passuk say והאדם ידע את חוה אשתו.
According to the Gemara (Sanhedrin 38b), this all took place in 12 “hours”, which is difficult to conceptualize unless we use the above principle that 1 hour in HKB”H’s reckoning is like 42 years in ours.
Why was Adam Harishon not diligent in performing פרו ורבו? The most plausible answer is because Adam Harishon, who was like an angel, was totally devoid of יצר הרע, the angel ס"מ had no hold over him (yet). Chazal tell us that without the יצר הרע, there can be no פרו ורבו and the world would cease to exist! Another possible answer is that Adam did not fulfill the purpose for which he was created – to serve HKB”H בשמחה, if he had, there would have been no delays.
Chava, wanting to “speed things up” decided to take matters into her own hands. She gave Adam wine to drink (Zohar, part A, 36,1) thinking it would put him in the right mood, as it says (Tehilim 104, 15) ויין ישמח לבב אנוש - add the required שמחה that was missing. However, instead, Adam became intoxicated and fell asleep.
Adam Harishon, according to Chazal was equivalent to an angel, he towered in height up to Heaven. The third faction of angels, led by ס"מ, although they remained silent, did not really want HKB”H to create man and lost no opportunity to make sure that man kept to his “part of the bargain” - remaining true to the purpose for which HKB”H created him. If man did not, these angels lost no time in holding him accountable.
The angel that heads the “department” in Heaven in charge of שמחה, holds those who do not serve HKB”H בשמחה accountable. In Heaven there is absolute justice and there are no “grey areas” for angels, only black and white. HKB”H has the attribute of mercy מידת הרחמים, but not the angels. They just do their job, to the letter. The ס"מ was doing his job that HKB”H programmed him to do. Adam had not served HKB”H בשמחה, had not fulfilled his first commandment and had to be held accountable.
However, the ס"מ had a problem, Adam was of the same stature as him (or greater) and there was no possibility at all for him to hold Adam directly accountable. For this reason the ס"מ had to get to Adam via a different route, through Chava.
Chava, extremely frustrated at her husband’s “tardiness” was duped by the ס"מ who “rode on the back” of the נחש. The נחש in Gan Eden was not the creature we know today that slithers on the ground. The primordial נחש walked upright and could reason and speak! It was perhaps the living creature in stature just below man. Using the נחש as his physical messenger, the angel ס"מ duped Chava into thinking she could create new life on her own, without Adam Harishon and without even HKB”H! By using the same method HKB”H used to create Adam – mixing dust (made by grinding the fruit of the עץ הדעת – wheat - into dust/flour), with water and leaving it to become inflated with רוח חיים. Except that HKB”H, when He creates man, inflates him with נשמת חיים – a neshama. This “artificial method” of the נחש instead inflated this “clay” (flour and water), with chametz! Chava ate from this chametz “bread” believing it would cause her to conceive a child. At the same time the נחש committed adultery with Chava according to Chazal (Yevamot 103b), הטיל בחוה זוהמה.
Chava realized her sin and knew that she was now mortal and would perish. Then, out of jealousy – not wanting Adam to marry another woman – Chava tricked Adam into also eating from this chametz bread and thus lowered him in stature, from originally being the חלתו של עולם – the hafrashat challah of the world that was elevated in kedusha - Adam was now no longer kadosh and the ס"מ could now be the קטגור and prosecute him in Heaven. This resulted in Adam and Chava becoming mortal and being expelled from Gan Eden.
The root of the sin of the עץ הדעת was Adam not following HKB”H’s plan, by segregating himself from the יצר הרע and not serving HKB”H בשמחה and fulfilling the mitzvah of פרו ורבו.
The נחש had already laid his seed in Chava. After being expelled from Gan Eden, Adam, who had now acquired יצר הרע, was able to perform פרו ורבו with Chava and lay his own seed in Chava’s womb. From these two unions Chava gave birth to two sons – Kayin, from the seed of the נחש and Hevel from Adam’s seed.
The two brothers Kayin and Hevel had different genetics. Kayin had DNA from the נחש in him and Hevel DNA from Adam. Kayin was naturally drawn to the earth, which HKB”H had cursed and became a farmer. Hevel was naturally drawn to becoming a shepherd. What is the difference between raising crops and raising sheep? The one is “instant gratification” – you sow a seed, water it and “hey presto”, in a few short weeks you have a field full of food. The other is a much longer path to tread. You have to wait for the lambs to grow, to mate and slowly, over a number of years, you build up a flock. This was the essence of the difference between the character of Kayin and Hevel. Kayin sought instant gratification, while Hevel took the long view. HKB”H created man to take the long view, to understand that this material world, with its instant gratification, is fleeting and what really matters is the next world, עולם הבא.
When Kayin and Hevel brought a Mincha to HKB”H, HKB”H accepted Hevel’s Mincha since it reflected the true purpose of man in this world, and rejected Kayin’s which was based on an erroneous, shortsighted philosophy. Enraged at being excluded from this “club”, Kayin killed Hevel.
You can say that Kayin had bad genetics and his outcome was inevitable, but the million dollar question is “Was Hevel blameless in this tragedy?” Seemingly the Torah does not attach any blame to Hevel. However the question begs asking – “If Hevel, who had better beginning statistics than Kayin, had made a more concerted effort to be מקרב his brother and teach him the difference between what is truly real and what isn’t, would this tragedy have happened?”
This template unfortunately filtered down through the generations.
Noach had three sons, one of who inherited the DNA of his ancestor Kayin – Cham. We know the story of Cham. Again the question, “If Shem had tried to be מקרב Cham, would Cham also have been a tzaddik like Shem?” Would Yishmael have been a tzaddik like Yitzchak and Eisav like Yaakov, if the brothers with the better genetics had made a more concerted effort to be מקרב the brother with the more problematic genetics? Or ….are genetics unalterable - that is the way you are born and that is the way you will stay? Sarah Imeinu and Rivka Imeinu seemed to think that genetics are unalterable, but is this really true?
Chazal say that by giving birth to Yishmael and Eisav, Avraham and Yitzchak eliminated the זוהמה של הנחש from their bloodline. But did they? Could it be that there was another possible outcome, that by the “prodigal” son being מקרב the “wayward” son - Hevel and Kayin, Shem and Cham, Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Eisav - that the זוהמה של הנחש could have also been eliminated, but in a different way, a better way? Then it would not have been necessary to wait millenia before HKB”H restored the world to its original state?
The Saba from Kelm, R' Simcha Zissel Ziv quotes a Midrash from Vayishlach, that when Yaakov reunited with Eisav, Yaakov introduced him to all his children. Dina, Yaakov's daughter, is not mentioned at all. Where was Dina? The Midrash says that Yaakov hid her in a box, so that Eisav would not set eyes on her and want to take her for a wife. In the end, what happened? Schem, a goy, kidnapped Dina and raped her. The Saba from Kelm says that Yaakov made a mistake! He should have given Dina to Eisav, who was circumcised, as a wife - because perhaps she would have made him do tshuva. Since he did not, Dina ended up being taken by an uncircumcised goy.
Yaakov gave birth to twelve sons, supposedly all of them טהורים with no traces of the זוהמת הנחש. But was this really so? There were still traces! The sibling rivalry (instead of sibling unity) persisted and this necessitated us descending to Egypt, to remove the last traces of this sibling rivalry. If the brothers and Yosef had been מקרב each other, instead of telling lashon harah one against the other, or trying to kill one another by throwing the other into a pit filled with snakes … perhaps the Torah would have been given to them then and there and we would not have had to wait another 210 years for that to happen. Did that זוהמה של הנחש completely disappear from our bloodline?
After that introduction we can now begin the shiur.
Everyone is familiar with the iconic story of churban Bayit Sheini, the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza (Gittin 55b). The reason the stories of the churban appear in Gittin is because the churban was a kind of a “get” between HKB”H and us. I will briefly recap the story.
There was someone (anonymous) who made a seudah. He sent his messenger to invite his good friend Kamtza, but the messenger got his wires crossed and by mistake gave the invitation to the ba’al hasimcha’s worst enemy Bar Kamtza. Bar Kamtza shows up at the wedding and when the ba’al hasimcha sees him he asks what he is doing there. Bar Kamtza replies that he has been invited. The ba’al hasimcha, understanding that there has been a mixup, demands that Bar Kamtza leave immediately. Bar Kamtza pleads with him not to embarrass him in public, to let him remain until the end of the seudah and he will pay for his portion. The ba’al hasimcha refuses, “Get out!” Bar Kamtza offers to pay for the cost of half the seudah. The ba’al hasimcha says “No, get out!” Bar Kamtza offers to pay for the cost of the entire seudah! The ba’al hasimcha refuses and has Bar Kamtza thrown out in front of everyone.
Bar Kamtza says to himself “At the seudah there were a lot of important chachamim and they said nothing and did not lift a finger to stop this halbanat panim, I will teach them all a lesson!” Bar Kamtza has close connections with the Roman emperor. He travels to Rome and says to the emperor “The Jews have revolted against you!” The emperor asks, “How do you know?” Bar Kamtza replies “Send them a prime quality calf as a sacrifice and see if they accept it or not!” The emperor sends the calf back with Bar Kamtza and on the way Bar Kamtza purposely makes a blemish in the calf (one opinion says in the eyelids and the other says in the lips). Such a blemish is not considered pasul amongst the goyim for their sacrifices, but it does posel the animal for sacrificing in the Beit HaMikdash.
The chachamim did not know what to do. Should they sacrifice it anyway and prevent the wrath of Rome? R’ Zechariah ben Avkulas, head of the Sanhedrin said that you cannot bring it as a sacrifice. The chachamim said “Should we kill Bar Kamtza and prevent him from returning to Rome and provoking?” Again, R’ Zecharia ben Avkulas said you cannot kill him. The Gemara ends this episode saying that the “humility of Zecharia ben Avkulas destroyed the Beit HaMikash!”
Whether this story actually happened, or the Gemara is using it as a mashal, is irrelevant. The purpose of the Gemara is to get to the root cause of the destruction of Bayit Sheini, to cut deep down to the very origins of how this tragedy occurred and in addition, to accurately portray the reality that existed in the time of Bayit Sheini.
Before we examine the story on both levels, there are a few questions that need answering. First off, why is Kamtza’s name mentioned at all in this story? What did he do? He supposedly had no part in it at all – it was all about the (anonymous) ba’al hasimcha and Bar Kamtza! Secondly, why didn’t the chachamim at the seudah object or intervene? Thirdly, isn’t Bar Kamtza’s reaction a little over the top – to destroy the Beit Hamikdash and send Am Yisrael into galut for 1952 years (and counting) – just because he got jilted at a party?
Let us begin by examining this story at the root level - how it all began.
It is not incidental that Kamtza and Bar Kamtza’s names come from the root of the word Kmitza. The Gemara says - אקמצא ובר קמצא חרוב ירושלים. Why use the term אקמצא? The Gemara should rather say בגלל קמצא. What does it mean א-קמצא? Aleph Kamtza? Aleph is “One”, אחד. Kamtza means a Kmitza. אקמצא means “One did a Kmitza”. Which one? The ONE, the only ONE – HKB”H. HKB”H did a Kmitza! Why did he do a Kmitza? - to create Adam Harishon. Adam Harishon is a Kmitza from the earth. Adam Harishon is Kamtza!
The ba’al hasimcha’s name is not mentioned, because He does not have a name, He has many names. The ba’al hasimcha is HKB”H! What was the seudah? It was obviously a wedding. We understand this from the offer of Bar Kamtza to first pay for the one half of the seuda and then for both halves. When are the costs of a seudah divided in two? at a wedding! Which wedding was this? the wedding of Adam and Chava. Who was the guest of honor at this wedding meant to be? Kamtza – Adam Harishon.
But something went wrong, instead of Adam Harishon, an uninvited guest appeared – Bar Kamtza. Bar Kamtza means the son of Kamtza, the son of Adam Harishon the enemy of the ba’al hasimcha. Which son was this? Kayin - who was born from the seed of the נחש and the ס"מ. The ס"מ is not HKB”H’s friend, because he is incessantly trying to trip up mankind, HKB”H’s favorite creation, make them fail and thus prove HKB”H was wrong to create man. True he is an angel programmed by HKB”H and simply doing his job - he is a necessary evil, but if unbridled, an “evil” nonetheless.
On the second day it was only HKB”H and His angels. But then HKB”H went and “upset the apple cart” on the 6th day by creating man - not only creating man, but preferring man over the highest of the angels. ס"מ, from being the guest of honor, the highest angel with 12 wings, was now the unwanted guest “kicked out of the party”! Being excluded from the “club” leads to unbridled hatred and there are no lengths the disgruntled “party” will not go to, to avenge the insult.
HKB”H had told Adam how to handle the ס"מ. He commanded Adam – ורדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובכל חיה הרמשת על הארץ – to rule over the חיה הרמשת על הארץ, in other words the נחש. As long as man rules over his יצר הרע, the יצר הרע helps him to achieve things that are otherwise impossible. Adam Harishon misunderstood. When HKB”H told him to steer clear of the eitz hada’at, Adam mistakenly thought that included the יצר הרע as well. The יצר הרע is essential to perform פרו ורבו. The ס"מ is in charge of simcha and without simcha there is no פרו ורבו. This is why for 42 years it did not happen.
The “jilted” ס"מ, previously the highest creation in HKB”H’s universe, now held Adam Harishon accountable and caused him to fall. When man does not rule his יצר הרע, it rules him. Adam Harishon sinned by lacking simcha. By keeping clear of the ס"מ he was also denying himself the 5th level in Heaven, מעון where simcha originates.
HKB”H’s original plan was that Adam and the ס"מ would live in symbiosis in Gan Eden, with Adam overseeing the ס"מ - the “prodigal” son Adam, living in harmony and guiding the “wayward” son, the ס"מ, to spur Adam on to the highest possible achievements. This is why it says that on the 6th day HKB”H looked back on ALL His creation and it was טוב מאד – including the ס"מ who had a positive role to play in HKB”H’s plan.
Instead, however, Adam segregated himself from the ס"מ and this brought his downfall, because instead of fostering harmony and symbiosis, it led to unbridled hatred between Adam and the ס"מ. This led to the churban of the Beit Hamikdash – Gan Eden, where the two trees stood side by side in the center of the Gan, the Eitz HaChayim and the eitz hada’at - like the Menora and the Shulchan standing side by side in the Mikdash.
The jilted ס"מ took his revenge by causing a blemish in the eyelids and the lips, the essential components of a smile (Meir Panim, Chap. 14). Adam who had failed to smile and have simcha was punished with a blemish in the organs of a smile – the eyes and the mouth.
This was the root of it all and this is what the Gemara is hinting to on a deeper level. It was a prototype catastrophe that repeated itself generation after generation, that instead of the “prodigal” son living in symbiosis with and harnessing the complementary abilities of the “wayward” son, he segregated himself repeatedly and caused unbridled hatred and suffering throughout the generations – Hevel/Kayin, Shem/Cham, Yitzchak/Yishmael, Yaakov/Eisav, Yosef/The Brothers, etc.
Instead of performing our true purpose in this world, which is to be a light unto the “wayward sons” and mekarev them to serve HKB”H, Am Yisrael repeatedly shut themselves off from the outside world and instead of being a beacon of light outwards, we have shone only inwards, causing untold, unbridled hatred and retribution against us. Instead of living together with and ruling over the ס"מ as Hashem intended, we have built walls around ourselves to keep the ס"מ out. This can never bring about תיקון עולם and restore the creation to its intended original purpose.
Now let’s examine the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza on a pshat level.
What kind of person was Bar Kamtza? We know he was exceedingly wealthy (he could afford to pay for the entire seudah). We also know that he had close connections with the emperor in Rome. He was not some “shmendrik” from around the corner. This was an important, well connected man! He was also knowledgeable in halacha – he knew the intricate nuances of psulei hakorbanot.
If someone offers to pay for the entire wedding, the hall, the caterer, the photographer, the flowers, etc. just to let him finish his meal and then leave on his own, how much is that in today’s terms? Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars! What was the ba’al hasimcha’s problem? Let Bar Kamtza finish his meal in silence – you don’t even need to be nice to him, you can totally ignore him – and voila, you are instantly $150,000 richer. It’s a no brainer!
For someone to refuse such an offer, the dispute between the ba’al hasimcha and Bar Kamtza could not have been financial, or some neighborly indignation or tiff, it must have been ideological. For the chachamim to not intervene in the matter, they must have been in agreement with the ba’al hasimcha in throwing Bar Kamtza out. Chazal say one of the chachamim present was Zecharia ben Avkulas, the head of the Sanhedrin and his “humility” (lack of initiative) in preventing Bar Kamtza’s disgrace, was the cause of the churban. If the head of the Sanhedrin is of the opinion that Bar Kamtza is a rasha, then he must have been a “low life”. Tzaddikim do not go “ratting” to Rome and bringing about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.
Bar Kamtza was a person who desperately wanted to be accepted (or at the very least – indulged) at the party with the chachamim – he was prepared to spend fortunes of money on it! But the ba’al hasimcha and the chachamim, who were of the same mind – could not stomach his presence in their midst, under any circumstances!
I am now going to sketch a scenario for you in modern terms, that is a carbon copy of this story and you will then see why we have not yet been zocheh to the Geulah. I will spell it out in no uncertain terms, so that there can be no misunderstanding.
It is the same story of the “prodigal” son and the “wayward” son we discussed above.
Kamtza, the ba’al hasimcha and the chachamim were what we call today charedim. Bar Kamtza was a reform Jew. This was an ideological dispute that continues to this day between orthodox Jewry and reform Jewry. The orthodox Jews are the “prodigal” son, who are דבקים בהקב"ה - they are exemplary in their observance of the Torah and the mitzvot. The reform Jews are the “wayward” son that do not take the “long view”, but rather prefer the instant gratification of the here and now and all the material pleasures this world has to offer and when that conflicts with the Torah they choose the instant gratification.
Now imagine a charedi wedding of an important talmid chacham from Agudat Yisrael to which the gedolei hador have been invited. Suddenly in walks a reform Jew (“rabbi”?) from a radical left wing liberal political party, someone who is active in provoking confrontations at the Kotel every Rosh Chodesh. “What are you doing here!” is the immediate response. “I was invited!” is the reply (Perhaps he thought it would be like Moshe Gafni inviting Yair Lapid and Meirav Michaeli to his simcha). “It is a mistake. Leave, we don’t want you here. You do not belong here!” the ba’al hasimcha says. Everyone hears the commotion and all ears and eyes are on them. “Please do not shame me in front of the gedolei hador and everyone here. Just let me finish my plate here at the kabalat panim and I will quietly take my leave with no fuss. I understand that there must have been a mistake, please let us behave civilly“ he pleads. “No! I want you to leave now!” The “wayward” son, who the charedim consider a rasha, (he may even objectively be a rasha) is booted out and shamed in public. “All I wanted was for them to accept me for who I am, or at the very least show common human decency, but they threw me out on the street. I will show them, I will get even with them!”
This radical left wing reform activist is well connected in American reform Jewish circles and in the US Democratic party and works tirelessly, day and night, to provoke and formulate legislation in the US government against Israel. He gives lectures in university campuses across America and Europe in favor of the BDS and embargos against Israel. From his studies in the reform seminary he has acquired a good deal of “inside” knowledge of Judaism and considers himself an “authority” (although he practices less than 20% of what he preaches). To the outside world he is a Jewish “rabbi” (reform). The man on the street in New York cannot differentiate between this rabbi and that “rabbi”, to him they are one and the same. If a Jew can say these things about his own people then they must be the scum of the earth! The result is that he is single handedly instrumental in fuelling the flames of the Arab propaganda of lies and turning almost the entire world community against Israel - all because of his personal vendetta against those who rejected him.
Were the charedim correct in rejecting him? This “no-goodnik” is כופר בתורת ישראל. Every Rosh Chodesh he deliberately arrives at the Kotel and flagrantly provokes while being עובר multiple issurim in the Torah, live on TV! The question is why he bothers with the Kotel in the first place. If he is so far gone, what possible reason could there be for him to fight for his “right” to be at the Kotel? the last remnant of our Beit Hamikdash, which he doesn’t believe in anyway! (the reform doctrine does not believe that korbanot will ever be restored, nor do they want them to be – it conflicts with their progressive/liberalist view on animal rights).
Halachically we are allowed to “hate” evil. However, there are strict criteria and limits to this (see the shiur on Vayeishev) and the bottom line is that we are allowed to hate the evil deeds but not the person. It is an isur de’oraita to hate a fellow Jew, regardless of how evil he/she is.
Why did the reform Jew accept the invitation? (he didn’t know it was a mistake, although he suspected it might be a possibility). He went to the wedding on the “off-chance” that this might be some kind of attempt at reconciliation!
When the charedim at the wedding found out that there was a “mistake”. What should the first thought have been running through their minds? In the Torah there are no mistakes! Nothing happens by chance, everything is by Hashem’s guiding hand. If the reform Jew ended up at the wedding it was because HKB”H wanted him to be there!
Perhaps it was an epic meeting of diametrically opposed philosophies to test their ability to coexist? To do tikkun olam!
When we are confronted by such a test, instead of the instinctive reaction to reject and eject anything that is foreign to our philosophy, HKB”H is asking us to ask ourselves – “Have we done everything in our power to be mekarev this wayward son?”
Have we? Honestly?
Have the charedim gone out on a limb to be mekarev all the lost souls in America, Israel and the rest of the world. To shine a light outward, like a beacon – דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום ? They are the princes of the Torah. Their light should shine the brightest with אהבת ישראל. Or have they surrounded themselves by a wall, segregating and focusing the light only inwards on themselves? Perhaps the only charedi faction that has not cut themselves off is Chabad! Lubavitch is the model of what every Jew should be doing to be metaken olam! They travel to the farthest reaches of the earth seeking out every possible “wayward” son and try to be mekarev. This was HKB”H’s original plan!
Have the national religious Jews gone out on a limb to be mekarev and shine our light outwards? Or have we segregated ourselves in our own yishuvim and turned the light inward on ourselves instead of outwards? The expulsion from Gush Katif was a serious wake up call for the national religious and since then many have woken up and become new kinds of “settlers”, settling in - enclaves of secular Jews in Tel Aviv, Lod, Haifa, etc. creating beacons of light and love that shine outwards rather than inwards. כן ירבו.
We are allowed to hate evil deeds, but we are not allowed to hate a fellow Jew, regardless of how evil he/she is. If we do, this is called שנאת חינם – it is chinam because it is our own choice, we are not commanded to do it, in fact we are commanded the opposite.
It is OK to go on TV and confront and debate the liberalist/progressive, left wing, reform philosophy and try to rebuke, convince and be mekarev. However it is forbidden to throw a fellow Jew out of your simcha onto the street! Ideology aside, this is where the debate ends and simple derech eretz begins. This is what Hillel and Shamai understood – furious debate in the beit hamidrash yes, but each marrying the others’ sons and daughters and attending each others’ simchas.
The grim reality that existed in the time of churban Bayit Sheini is that the “charedim” and shomrei Torah u’mitzvot of that time had lost their perspective and instead of engaging in tikun olam, Chabad style, they preferred to circle the wagon! The only one who didn’t, the only “Chabadnik” of that time, was Rebi Tzadok, who fasted and went out trying to be metaken. But he was only one of the many who didn’t, like Zechariya ben Avkulas. Zechariah ben Avkulas was the gadol hador, the head of the Sanhedrin! We cannot even begin to imagine how great he was and what כוחות תורה he had. But the Gemara tells us that even he failed – because of him the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, great in Torah as he may have been, he lost sight of HKB”H’s plan for the world.
The chilling truth is that the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza is not an old-wives-tale. It is a living and breathing reflection of the reality even today. We have not learnt yet from our past mistakes.
We can mourn the Beit Hamikdash as much as we want, we can pray as much as we want for it to be rebuilt, we can research and passionately devote all our time to studying and baking the Lechem Hapanim in anticipation for the Geulah …… However, unless we fix this root dysfunction, the Mikdash will never be rebuilt in our time. We will have been instrumental in its re-destruction in our generation all over again!
The destruction of the Mikdash had its roots in Gan Eden, in a justified attempt to segregate ourselves from the eitz hada’at, but along with it – also from the יצר הרע and in thus doing, we denied ourselves the simcha that HKB”H demands from us in our service of Him. We need to embrace our יצר הרע and rule over it ורדו ..... בכל חיה הרמשת על הארץ. This was HKB”H’s plan, not to kick the “wayward” son out of the wedding, but to invite him in and to rule over him - not to let him rule over us.
If we apply this principle, both in our dealings with our own יצר הרע and also in our dealings with our fellow Jews whose יצר הרע has a strong hold over them and try help them to also rule over it, then we will have reversed the reality of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza and realized the original plan of HKB”H – וירא ה' את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד. Then, and only then will we merit the Geulah.