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Causeless Love

07/26/2019 05:52:08 PM

Jul26

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

We have entered a period of time within the Jewish calendar called “the three weeks”.  It begins a downward trajectory from the 17th day of Tammuz, when the outer wall of Jerusalem was breached by the Romans in the year 70 culminating in the destruction of the 2nd Holy Temple on the 9th of Av just three weeks later.  Coincidentally, the 1st Holy Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians also on the 9th of Av.  One of the more well-known customs during this time period is the absence of weddings.

The Rabbis of yore struggled with the destruction of both Holy Temples on the same date, trying to discern why God’s presence was clearly withdrawn, as God would not have permitted this to happen unless the Israelites angered Him. This reflects an unease by the Rabbis of the Talmud in dealing with military matters, preferring to find Divine causes for events. They cite a story about the wrong guest being invited to a wedding, with the host publicly embarrassing and physically kicking him out the reception, and the ensuing revenge sought by the wronged individual, as the cause of the destruction of the 2nd Holy Temple.

The term that exemplifies this behavior is sin’at chinam, causeless H. One of the biggest challenges of the story is that the Rabbis of Talmud do not offer any reason why the host demonstrates such H against the guest, but perhaps that is also the genius of their story. By offering no background, no cause for such behavior, it becomes causeless.  All H is corrosive, rotting us from the inside, until we reach a point of being so infected that we do not even recognize the damage that H has done to us. Causeless H seems to be a form that can be ameliorated, since it lacks a cause and thus the infrastructure that we can build to justify our expressing H to another person. The causeless H of one person to another was sufficient to destroy all of Jerusalem. Alas, throughout history, the Jewish people have been the victims of much causeless H, and we can testify to how corrosive it can be to a society.

Causeless H does not have to exist; we frequently accept it because we don’t know how to cure it. In Hebrew the opposite of sin’at chinam is ahavat chinam, causeless love. What might causeless love be, and how is it expressed? Causeless love is showering goodness upon others for no reason other than because you can. If you have ever been the recipient of causeless love, you know the warm feeling that it brings you, the smile, the uplift. We don’t need “Causeless Love Day”, because that is an artificial attempt to bring something lacking into peoples’ lives.  Every single day of our lives should be “Causeless Love Day”, where we treat family, friends and strangers equally lovingly. The list of potential acts would no doubt be immense. I encourage you to think about what simple things you might be able to add to your daily life that expresses causeless love to all those you meet. It will certainly improve your mood as well as the recipient’s, and you will not know the positive impact it makes on anyone’s day, perhaps even stopping a potentially bad event from occurring.  Maybe The Beatles were right all along: All you need is love!

Mon, March 30 2020 5 Nisan 5780