Reflections on the Nine Days
For these nine days, I try to focus on and mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (holy temple). In our generation, we can’t remember what it was like to have a Temple. Some of the time, I mourn the fact that I have no idea what it is that I am mourning. But mostly, it has become a time for me to mourn the distance between us as a people and our g-d, and a time to mourn the distance that separates some of us from each other. As part of my mourning, I think about why the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, and still remains unbuilt.
The Gemara in Yoma teaches us that in the time of the second Beit Hamikdash, the jewish people observed the torah and the commandments, and performed kindnesses, but they hated each other for no reason, and as a result of that Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred), which is equal to idolotry, murder, and sexual immorality, the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. (Yoma 9b)
Today I mourn the Sinat Chinam that still exists among us. I mourn the difficulty with which queer people find welcoming shuls, and a safe place to observe the mitzvot in jewish community- even in communities that perform many kindnesses. The ability to be kind, it seems, does not make it impossible for us to hate. I mourn the concern of a young straight frum girl who tells me she worries it will be hard for her to find a shidduch because her brother is gay. I mourn the children of gay and lesbian parents who are not welcomed to certain jewish day schools, and as a result are denied the opportunity to study Torah. Even those who observe mitzvot sometimes forget to look around themselves and ensure that others can also observe the mitzvot and worship g-d.
But at the same time I celebrate those who have practiced Ahavat Chinam- groundless love. I celebrate people who have made a special effort to accept and welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered people in their communities. I celebrate the queer people who have continued to identify with and contribute to communities that do not always include us. And I celebrate those of us who have taken the time to support one another, in whatever way, in living lives of love in the face of hatred.
The Gemara in Masechet Taanit teaches us that those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit to see the happiness of Jerusalem. (Taanit 30b) Perhaps the gemara means to teach us that the act of mourning itself acts as a catalyst for us to face the Sinat Chinam in ourselves and in our communities, and begin to transform it into Ahavat Chinam.
May we all merit to celebrate together.
Posted by queeryeshivameidel.