BY Rabbi Moshe Weisblum
There was once a young woman who fell in a pit while visiting the Judea Valley in Israel. Miraculously, she survived the fall, but needed about 100 stitches to repair her wounds. When asked why she didn’t consider reconstructive surgery, she said she preferred to remain scarred, as a lucid self-reminder that she was living by the grace of the Creator.
All of us bear scars – whether they be physical or emotional in nature. The Jewish people collectively carry the scars of all that they’ve gone through as a nation. On July 27th this year, the ninth day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar, Jews will fast as one to atone for the baseless hatred they exhibited towards one another in ancient times. This poor treatment of man towards his fellow man so angered the Almighty that He precipitated the destruction of the first and second Temples. Since then, Jewish people have carried that knowledge with them and tried to be better, kinder people. Scars, after all, are meant to be a marker of what occurred, so that we might change our behavior and act differently going forward. They don’t only tell the story of our past, they help us build a smarter, more conscious future.
There’s much to be said about the unfortunate events that unfolded of this day, known as Tishah B’Av on the Jewish calendar, but what’s more important than the historical details are the lessons we can learn from them. The way we treat each other matters – to those we encounter, surely, but also in the eyes of our Creator. Let’s work harder to show respect to those who inhabit this world with us. Let’s be gracious and generous, and more inclined to see things from another person’s perspective. Let’s radiate positive energy and encouragement instead of going out of our way to bring people down. What our Father in heaven wants to see – and what will repair the cracks that have formed in our relationships – is hope, unity and love. When we begin to see one another as unique individuals with strengths to share, the hatred we may have considered feeling because of our supposed differences begins to dissipate and understanding takes its place.
Our Creator ensured that every single one of us has what to offer, and that we all have a purpose. Consequently, no one is worthy of hate, and everyone has a role to fill in this world. When we come to realize this, and when we give one another the space and the allowance to fulfill our Creator -given potential, we begin to truly rectify the mistakes of our past. May our behavior towards one another this ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av be a tikkun – correction – for times past and may we merit seeing the arrival of the Tikkun Olam – for a better world around all of us. Until then, may our efforts to be better cause a ripple effect that manifests itself visibly in this world, causing not destruction but renewal and sanctification in its wake.