Sick and Tired

Image:  Four withered roses in a vase without water. (pixabay)

I feel sick at heart this Tisha B’Av.

The Jewish community is horribly divided. We are divided in many ways, and we poke many fingers at one another, scolding.

Some Haredim see the Kotel as their synagogue. From their point of view, whatever they need to do to maintain the sanctity of that place as they define sanctity is justified.

Some other Jews believe that the Kotel belongs to all Jews everywhere and because the Haredim have said and done ugly things, whatever they say about the Haredim is justified.

Some Jews believe the State of Israel is a supreme value and any threat to it is an existential threat, so whatever happens in its defense is justified.

Some Jews believe that the State of Israel has committed crimes in its defense, and that whatever they need to do or say to other Jews to protest is justified.

Some Jews talk about “the Orthodox” as if they were monsters.

Some Jews talk about “the Reform” as if they were monsters.

Some Jews act as if Jews of color don’t even exist.

Some Jews think other Jews don’t “look Jewish enough.”

Some Jews say Jews who became Jewish as adults aren’t really Jews.



I am probably also guilty of some of it.

However, considering that the people during the Second Temple period were engaged in Torah study, observance of mitzvot, and acts of kindness, why was the Second Temple destroyed? It was destroyed due to the fact that there was baseless hatred during that period. This comes to teach you that the sin of baseless hatred is equivalent to the three transgressions: Idol worship, forbidden sexual relations and bloodshed. – Yoma 9b





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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

9 thoughts on “Sick and Tired”

  1. I feel sick at heart too. For so many reasons and including those you have listed in the blog post.

    It is easy for me to freeze in my tracks of this feeling and add it to the pile of unresolved or untreated sickness of my heart.

    The collective gathering for mourning and lamenting is one of the healthy ways I find our liturgy has placed for us to overcome the depressive moods that the thought of all the baseless hatred in the world that I am made aware of constantly because of the news cycle is causing.

    1. Luckily for you that according to the Bible there is no such second and/or third punishment for your sins, because God told us it is by our death that we pay for the sins we have committed.

      But the division which seems to infiltrate the Judaic communities is a pest already for many decades in Christendom where many denomination at moments go fierce in attack to other believers. Though there is where you should come to recognise real Christians and real lovers of God, those proclaiming the love of God and the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God not by calling other names but by spreading love.

  2. Rabbi Adar — Your post reminds me of something Hillel Zeitlin wrote in the early 1900s, about how Hasidism had strayed from the “pure Hasidism” of the Baal Shem Tov, because it had become splintered into groups that followed specific rebbes and rejected all other rabbi and their followers as “improper.” Zeitlin implored readers to understand the “love of Israel” that one Jew should feel for all other Jews to mean, as the Baal Shem Tov had said: “I love the worst Jew in the world much more than you love your favorite child.” (Green, Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era, 2012, at 39). I not sure many of us could love strangers more than we love our children, but I think the Besht’s sentiment leads us in the right direction — regardless which brand of Judaism we call our own!! shavua tov, jen

  3. Rabbi Adar: I’ve been thinking about the question I raised recently concerning the meaning of ‘baseless hatred’ which is not really explained in our texts. Could ‘baseless hatred’ in itself be that negativity spurred by pure emotional reaction in response to an incident, individual or group of one’s shortcomings? Will understanding this bring us closer to understanding our choices when our ‘yetzer hara’ raises its many heads?

  4. I think part of the problem is how one defines “baseless,” whether in English or Hebrew. If one believes that the coming of the Messiah is delayed because someone else davens in a synagogue without a mechitzah, or doesn’t keep kosher, or doesn’t observe Shabbat according to what they’ve been taught is the acceptable standard, then one is not going to see one’s hatred for those people or their practices as “baseless.” Rather, they are going to see it as not only entirely justified, but necessary, and will simply see admonitions against sinat chinam as not applying to them, or at least as not applying to this particular thing they do. So until we get to the point where we can agree what goes under that heading, we won’t make a lot of progress.

  5. The post “Sick and Tired” moved me. Well, not this post exactly but you, by the process that went into deciding to write it. The need to write it at all. That the situation discussed exists. For days now I’ve considered whether to add my few words because others might not like my position whether in my imagination or factual. I acknowledge that religion does many good things yet I find no answer in any organized religion as its very definition makes them secular and therefore exclusionary. Each requires this rite or ritual but not that one, that robe or clothing but not that one, this time of day or that all being external process, each requires to follow a person, philosophy or sect that has decided how it is. I know I’m a heretic, right? It’s not just religion. Far, far away from religion is the confirmed law of nature that says all things that take birth shall die, the actual truth of life. The Law of Nature remains true no matter if religions fight each other or themselves or if one or the other dominate. Respecting this ever-changing life, its delicate ephemeral nature is really ignored as the madness continues. People are in turmoil as things they want to happen never do, as things they don’t want will occur and they roll from desire and craving for a thing to hatred and aversion of another. Rolling, rolling never seeing the changing nature of this arising and passing as the very essence of life, the law of nature, this birth then death, this anger at things that will soon change and then the anger that they do change. The actual way of all life, is far, far away from religion. We are human.

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