In just a few days, starting Saturday night which is the nineth of Av, Jews around the world will gather to mourn the destruction of the Temple in ancient Jerusalem. We are told that it was caused by sinat chinam (baseless hatred) and that only by practicing ahavat chinam (baseless love) can we rebuild it.
What does baseless hatred look like today? Judging the young as if they are ready to commit crimes or have ill intentions? Discounting a viewpoint based upon someone's body weight? De-valuing someone who has less money, or no home? Education snobbery? Stereotyping Arabs, African Americans, older people, those who eat differently, those who walk differently in the world? Writing off someone's words because they are mentally ill? Judging parents for their strong willed and unique child? What are the ways we hate?
What does baseless love look like? Seeing the person behind the poverty? Not valuing someone by the clothes he wears? Recognizing that the "unstable" person's voice matters, and that truth can emanate from her? Noticing when automatic, society-bred stereotyping is happening, and making a conscious choice to overcome it? Smiling. Loving. Accepting. Understanding.
This Tisha B'Av, my goal is to get into touch with all the ways I personally contributed to the destruction of the Temple, and making an intentional effort to practice ahavat chinam in each moment that I exist.