But I’ve noticed that a lot of people are walking around pretty grumpy and irritable at the moment (including myself...).
When we get like that, our fuses are that much shorter, our urge to judge people harshly is that much stronger, and our tendency to pick fights with other people - often over nothing much - and to take things personally, in order to release all that pent-up frustration and inner dissatisfaction is sometimes overwhelming.
We’re in the three weeks right now, so all of these tendencies are probably at their nadir, as we head into Tisha B’Av and mourning the destruction of the Temple.
Remember, the temple was destroyed due to sinat chinam (baseless hatred), which Rav Ofer Erez very nicely broke down into four main issues, namely:
- Hakpada (judging others harshly)
Once we stop doing these four things, we’ll get the third Temple rebuilt and the exile ended.
So there’s some real work to do!
Maybe, I’ll write something here about why Israel really is the best place for a Jew to be that presses your buttons… maybe, you'll get a critical email that was sent on the spur of the moment that really wasn’t so well judged…maybe, you'lll snap at your kid for something really minor…maybe, our husbands will snap at us…
I’m telling us all now, that this is going to be happening a lot over the next three weeks, as God wants us to fix the sin of sinat chinam, so He’s all going to be giving us lots and lots of opportunities to take a deep breath, step back from instant negative judgment calls, and to do the work of trying to find a way of NOT getting angry / hating / jealous / harshly judging others.
I know, it’s real work, isn’t it?
I know, believe me I know, it’s not at all easy.
For example, I'm currently pondering whether it's 'judgmental' (in a negative way) of me to state that it's much harder to live a full Jewish life in chutz l'aretz. On the one hand, living in Israel is clearly a mitzvah and something God wants Jews to do, and that has caused me (and a lot of other people I know here) to dig deeper, spiritually, than would ever have happened in a million years, if I'd stayed in London.
Moving to Israel humbles you, and humility brings you closer to God (when it doesn't completely break you into pieces...)
On the other hand, I know that making that move entails an awful lot of very difficult challenges for most people in chutz l'aretz, and is not at all an easy or simple proposition.
Trying to navigate through these issues in a way that God wants, and that which avoid all trace of sinat chinam, is not at all clear or easy, at least to me.
But that’s the challenge God is throwing down to us all right now, and every tiny little move in the right direction we make is literally changing the whole world, and bringing the redemption closer.
So, let me end by apologizing to any readers who I’ve inadvertently offended or annoyed over the last little while. I’m not perfect, I’m not pretending to be, and like everyone else, I’m also struggling with a lot of ‘inner stuff’ that doesn’t always make for the most enlightened or inspired reading.
But please don’t judge me so harshly for my lapses. If I write something dumb or ill-judged, tell me nicely but don’t start hating me for it. I’m working on stuff, I’m trying to improve, and I’m asking God to help me, and that’s really all any of us can do, at this stage.
Ultimately, we Jews are all amazingly holy, pure, Divine neshamas - a part of Hashem Himself - that are walking around covered up by a whole bunch of gashmius klipot (husks or shells of evil). The more I try to see through the klipot, the more the Divine Light in the Jewish people is shining through.
But it’s work! Ongoing work!
So let’s make an agreement that at least for the next three weeks, we’re going to cut each other a lot of slack, and give each other a break. When people say or do something dumb or upsetting, we’re going to do our best to understand they're probably acting out of inner pain, confusion and turmoil, and not just because they’re trying to hurt us or make us feel bad.
(Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to stick around for more nasty treatment from very difficult, unrepentant characters, but the point here is to not HATE the person, not even in our hearts, as we walk away.)
And of course, the emuna dimension also kicks in here, because God can even use nasty, upsetting people to give us messages and hints about what we ourselves need to work on and fix, hard as that so often is to accept.
And if we really try to do that as best as we can, we may yet be celebrating the Third Temple on Tisha B’av.