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Fast of the 9th of Av

Fast of the 9th of Av

Tisha B'Av and Women - Turning Unjustified Hatred into Gratuitous Love

Published on Tuesday September 14th, 2021

The most tragic and devastating day in the Jewish calendar is speedily approaching: Tisha B'Av, a mournful day of fasting and mortification for the People of Israel.  On this date, several decades apart, both Jerusalem Temples were destroyed. In addition, the 9th of Av witnessed a plethora of tragic events across different continents, such as for example, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

The holy Torah teaches us that we, the Jewish People, are guilty of forging and shaping all the tragedies that have befallen us. The first Beit Hamikdash was ravaged because the Jewish People succumbed to debauchery, while the fall of the second Beit Hamikdash was triggered by "Sinat Chinam", gratuitous hatred among the People of Israel.

What can we derive and learn from these tragic events?  And which feminine trait do these events allude to?

Gripping insights are offered regarding the destruction of both Jewish Temples. One of them is that the sins which led to the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash are idolatry, adultery and murder, three capital sins in the Torah.

If, G-d forbid, a man is facing a life-threatening situation and transgressing a Torah prohibition can save his life, he is not only permitted, but ordered to transgress it. This applies to all prohibitions, except the three sins singled out above. We can thus imagine the gravity of these transgressions! However, despite this phenomenon and the gravity of idolatry, adultery and murder, the Second Temple was nevertheless re-built approximately seven decades after the First Temple's destruction. How come?

In contrast, the Second Temple was destroyed because the People of Israel were displaying gratuitous hatred, Sinat Chinam, toward one another. And the Second Temple has not been rebuilt yet…more than 2000 years since its destruction. Thus, the Torah is surprisingly teaching us that gratuitous hatred is to a certain extent graver than the three capital sins that triggered the loss of the First Temple.

But, how is all this related to Jewish women? It would be presumptuous to assume that the daughters of Israel did not play a part in the transgressions that led to the fall of the Beit Hamikdash. However, I believe women hold the keys leading to the reconstruction of the Third Beit Hamikdash.

De facto, women are the pillars of the Jewish home and the children's paramount educators. They have a critical role in teaching their offspring that Sinat Chinam can have devastating consequences. They are equally able to imbue these young minds with a solid understanding that to ensure the survival of the Jewish People, they must learn to practice the antidote of Sinat Chinam, Ahavat Chinam, gratuitous love.

In this context, it is fundamental to understand that within Orthodox Judaism, each community represents a unique way to serve Hashem. Each stream of Orthodox Judaism is like the facet of a diamond which reflects the quintessential root of the unity of all the souls of the Jewish People. We mustn't judge or devalue a specific trend just because we identify with a different one. Only a woman has the capacity to convey this fundamental belief to each one of her children. To this end, she may tap into her binah yeterah (feminine intelligence) to discern when to exercise extreme patience and caution, when to apply an extra dose of sensitivity and when to be particularly tactful to get her message across.

May we manifest the reconstruction of the Third Temple and witness the arrival of Mashiach, thanks to the efforts and the merit of women, whose capacity to bestow and spread gratuitous love is sure to reap the much needed unity to achieve redemption, speedily in our day! Amen!

Liora CHARTOUNI

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