Parts of the months of Tammuz and Av are currently designated for mourning the loss of the Beis HaMikdash, the Avodah, Yerushalayim and Eretz Yisrael. While Hashem has, through open miracles, gifted us permission to visit and dwell in many parts of Eretz Yisrael, including the Old City of Yerushalayim, we still lack the splendor and glory of the Malchus Hashem reigning in Yerushalayim and the performance of the Avodah in the Beis HaMikdash.
We recently read Parshas Korach, where we learned of the horrific effects that a machlokes can have. The Mirrer Mashgiach, Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l, points out that from the comparison of the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos between the machlokes of Korach and that of Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, we learn that Korach’s machlokes was one of ruchniyus. The Mishnah says the machlokes of Korach differed from that of Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel because it was fueled shelo l’sheim Shamayim. If the machlokes wasn’t one of ruchniyus, how would the Mishnah even compare someone challenging authority for his own personal gain to a machlokes in learning? Yet even a machlokes for ruchniyus purposes carries the same detrimental capabilities.
It is difficult to write about such a topic, but from an outsider’s perspective it seems that there are so many ongoing communal machlokesim today.
We recently read Parshiyos Balak and Pinchas where we learned of the quintessential kana’i, Pinchas. The pasuk testifies that Pinchas acted to avenge Hashem’s kinah, without any ulterior motives. This is the necessary component for anyone attempting to act on behalf of Hashem.
The overwhelming majority of machlokesim and acts of kana’us performed today are not l’sheim Shamayim. The galus that we are currently suffering through was caused by sinas chinam, or machlokesim and acts of kana’us that were not l’sheim Shamayim.
The Netziv, in his hakdamah to Bereishis, explains that the sinas chinam that occurred during the times of the second Bais HaMikdash was “l’sheim Shamayim,” so to speak. When someone saw another person not acting according to his standards, he would suspect him of being an apikores.
In a similar vein, there are certain aspects of Yiddishkeit that have wrongfully become associated with certain “sects” of Klal Yisrael. For example, nitzotzos (sparks of kedusha) are not unique to Chassidim; Navi is not meant for Maskilim; and Mashiach is not exclusive to Chabad. Today, if one speaks about chibas Eretz Yisrael he must fear being called a Zionist or a Tziyoni. Perhaps people don’t realize that every time they recite the second bracha of bentching they are thanking Hashem for giving us an “Eretz chemdah tovah urechavah.”
The sefer Meged Givos Olam (Vol I page 62) documents that anyone who would visit the Chafetz Chaim, he would ask of them, “Take me to Eretz Yisrael.” When my great-aunt and uncle, who survived the War, got off the plane in Eretz Yisrael (in the old airport where one would exit the plane onto the ground and then board a bus), they literally bent down and kissed the ground. This was how the Amora’im (Kesubos 111), the Rishonim, and Acharonim acted, and until a few years ago how Klal Yisrael acted and felt towards Eretz Yisrael.
During the time of year that is designated for mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and the Avodah in Yerushalayim, we should try to soften our newfound divisive boundaries. If each person individually will be careful not to engage in enforcing the confines of his halachic and hashkafic divisive perimeters, we will have the necessary achdus and ahavas chinam required to bring the Geulah sheleimah speedily in our days.