In Tractate Yoma 9b, “Sinat Chinam” – senseless hatred – is listed as the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple. We brought it down ourselves — because of our hate, our distaste for the other, not just Jews hating other Jews, but human beings hating other human beings simply because of race, religion, or ethnicity, one hating another because of his likes or dislikes.
Hate is a word used too much in our society. When children get mad at someone, they say “I hate you”. We too are guilty of this, I hate that idea or that activity or that sports team. We may not truly mean that we “hate” someone or something, but this is what our children hear.
Rashi teaches that “Sinat Chinam – Gratuitous Hatred” is hatred directed towards individuals who have not committed any action for which it would be justifiable to hate them. I believe there are very few things in this world that one could do that would justify hating that individual. Most of the time, it is Sinat Chinam. Most of the time, it is a hate crime.
I was saddened to read about the hate crime that took place in Jackson, Mississippi only days ago. A group of white teenage boys in two cars decided that it would be a fun evening activity to attack an African-American male. They pulled into the first parking lot off the highway, got out of the car, and two carloads of teenagers beat James Craig Anderson – 49 years old – to death. They ran over him with their car just to be sure.
Such events are disgusting and sickening, especially when we consider that children learn such hate from parents, teachers, and friends.
We end Tisha B’Av with a sense of hope: We chant the last words of Megillat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, and ask of God to take us back, to once again bring us closer to the Divine. We distanced ourselves from God and in doing so, have allowed hate to invade our souls. As the ending of this saddening day nears, we see a sliver of light in the darkness. We cling to God, in hopes of removing the hate within us. Yet, we also have a responsibility to rid the world of all hate, not just within us, but within everyone.
We learn in Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Sages, that “when we come across a place where there are no worthy persons, no good people, then we must strive to be good and to be worthy” (2:6). Ending hate begins with us. We must stand up against such hate crimes. Our children must stand up against bullying. We pray that in the not so distant future, we will live in a world full of respect, love, and admiration, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, class, or religion.