The gemara in Yoma (9b) asks, “Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Weren’t the Jews occupied with Torah, mitzvos, and the practice of kind deeds? [The Second Temple was destroyed] because there was unjustified hatred between Jews (sinas chinam).”
The Chofetz Chaim (Introduction to Sefer Chofetz Chaim ) goes further and asks what was the manifestation of this sinas chinam? He answers:
“At the end of the Second Temple period, baseless hatred and speaking derogatorily about others (lashon hara) abounded, and for these reasons the Temple was destroyed. The intention of the Talmud [Yoma 9b] in identifying “baseless hatred” as the reason for the Temple’s destruction was also to include derogatory speech, which reflects the hatred between Jews. Were this factor not present, they would not have been punished.”
What can we do to overcome the sinas chinam and rebuild the Beis HaMikdosh? The Sfas Emes writes (Rosh HaShanah, 5641), “Since the Temple was destroyed by baseless hatred, it will – please G-d – be rebuilt by loving our fellow Jews.”
Just in time to help strengthen our resolve to fight sinas chinam, Rabbi Ephraim Belitzer in Yerushalayim has published B’Nesivos HaChafetz Chaim that offers inspirational insight into how to improve relationships with our fellow Jews by emulating the life of the Chofetz Chaim. This collection of stories (written in Hebrew), some known, and others less known, was researched from twenty sefarim as well as culled from discussions with talmidim of direct disciples of the Chofetz Chaim. The sefer features thirteen chapters addressing caring for others, hachnasas orchim, Shalom Bayis, communal responsibility, aspiring for truth, avoiding machlokes, and more.
Rabbi Belitzer has kindly shared a free digital copy of this sefer with the educators, rabbis and mekarvim at Olami to help prepare for Tisha B’Av programs and teaching throughout the year. This digital copy may not be used for commercial purposes whatsoever. Anyone interested in purchasing copies of the bound sefer, please contact Rabbi Belitzer directly: efbi99 at gmail.com