22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Emuna isn’t Enough    

Emuna isn’t Enough

Emuna is the foundation of the Torah. But even emuna is only a means to an end… A HUGE NEW INSIGHT!!! MUST READ!


The Root Cause… 

In my previous article in this series The Only Solution I explained why  ahavat  Yisrael  b’mesirut  nefesh   loving each other with self-sacrifice - is the only way to counteract the serious sin of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, which is the root cause of not only the destruction of the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago, but is also the continuing cause of the current and extended exile. 


Let’s review this again: The Gemara Yerushalmi continues and explains that the First Temple was destroyed due to the three cardinal sins for which you are supposed to be prepared to die before you transgress them: sexual immorality (as an aside, this sin is NOT only the sin of adultery as is often translated, but of all forms of sexual sins are included in it, including even just looking at the wife of another man and thinking thoughts about her! Yes, that is how serious guarding your eyes really is – you should be prepared to die before you risk lusting after another woman, even if only in your mind!), murder and idol worship. Even with that, it was rebuilt in only 70 years. 


But the Second Temple, which was destroyed because of sinat chinam, has still not been rebuilt after almost 2,000 years! From here, the Gemara explains that we see that hating each other is actually WORSE than all three cardinal sins COMBINED. 



Sinat chinam is not only the root cause of the destruction of the Temple, but all the subsequent destructions that followed after it until today – all the pogroms, the intifadas, the Crusades, the Holocaust  itself, everything – right up to the tragedies  on  Lag  B’Omer  and  Erev Shavuot this year.  


Everything is rooted in sinat chinam. And therefore until we have corrected it with  ahavat  chinam,  loving each other even without reason – we haven’t achieved anything!  


Not even with Torah, not even with chesed and helping each other, not even with hitbodedut (personal prayer). Nothing, but nothing else, will fix the root problem! 


Even more, without loving each other – every single thing we do to come closer to Hashem only pushes us farther away from other people, and increases the hate between us. Why is that? Because now we become more filled with arrogance, and we think we’re better than that person or that group, and we come to hate them! You came closer to some Rabbi – but now you hate those who don’t fawn over his teachings the way you do. You became stronger in some commandment – but now you look down on those who are weak in it.  


It’s true – a lot of people speak about loving each other. I myself have written articles on this subject, which I highly suggest you read these two series. You’ll gain a lot of inspiration, ideas and tips: A World of Good and The Most Important Thing is Peace.  


But in the end all and be all, it ends up being just words, a lot of nice inspiration that we put in our pocket and don’t let it change our lives, if we don’t now DO something with what we just learned.  


And the Solution! 

Therefore, we must do something practical to increase the love, acceptance, and peace between us. After all, what is love? The root of the word love in Hebrew, ahava, is hav, to give. If you love someone, you give to them! But what can you truly give someone? And what can everyone give to others regardless of the amount of money they have or other mitigating factors? Actually, you can give someone else the most precious thing in the world – your desire that everything should be good for them. 


Finally, finally – we have a practical solution to this problem of thousands of years called  sinat  chinam. The answer is that we can all pray for each other! 


And not only do we pray for each other, but we each must do so with great self-sacrifice. I’m just a little bit busier than the average person (to put it lightly) but every day, I drop EVERYTHING to make sure that I carve out the time to pray for the Jewish people and the world. That’s what’s called “loving without reason – with self-sacrifice”! To cancel everything and say, “I love every Jew, and I love every person, and I am putting them first!” 


We have to all pray for each other to do teshuva, and return to Hashem in repentance, and PRIMARILY IN THE AREA OF THE COMMANDMENTS BETWEEN MAN AND FELLOW MAN! 


For simple bullet points on exactly what to pray for, read: Love Comes First. 



Returning to Hashem… for Real 

This is why I say about myself, me – Rabbi Shalom Arush – that I just started myself to truly return in  teshuva,  and return to Hashem, on Lag B’Omer! In fact, I even count the days! Today is 30 days! And I am not exaggerating. 


The reason is that before, I said to myself, “Okay, we need to learn a lot of Torah, and work on fulfilling the commandments properly, and personal prayer, etc. etc. – and we also need to be careful to respect  others and the various commandments between man and fellow man.” But now, I understand that this is not correct! 


Now I understand, and I have found sources from the Gemara, the Midrash, and all over the holy books to support this, that the purpose of the entire Torah is ahavat Yisrael, and Torah and mitzvot are only the MEANS that must be used in order to achieve this purpose. 


This is totally new – a huge chiddush. That everything is just a means in order to arrive at the purpose, which is ahavat Yisrael, which is the core and the essence of everything – this is a totally new outlook. 


Let me give you an example to understand just how deeply this essence of bein adam l’chavero, of focusing primarily on the commandments between humans, runs. You might have heard of the oft-quoted Midrash that before the giving of the Torah, when Moshe Rabbeinu went up to Heaven to bring down the Torah, the angels fought him. They asked, “We are angels, we do everything perfectly – why should we allow you imperfect mortal beings to receive the Torah?” Moshe  Rabbeinu  answered them with the following, “The Torah says that you must honor your parents. Do you have parents to honor? The Torah says that you shall not covet or steal. Do you have an Evil Inclination to do such things? Clearly the Torah is designed specifically for imperfect human beings!” The angels not only accepted Moshe’s answer, but they even loved him for it. 


Here’s the deeper point of that Midrash: The whole Torah is for the purpose of these commandments between man and fellow man! The angels can do everything else themselves – except for the commandments bein adam l’chavero. The big problem is that if we mortal humans do not keep these commandments properly, then the angels go back and create a terrifying accusation against us to Hashem, “If they are not keeping the Torah for the reason that they were given it, then take the Torah away from them!!!” 


Let me take this one step further and explain how emuna fits into this equation. Rebbe Nachman said that the exile is only because of a lack of emuna. Why? Because emuna gives us the necessary tools and knowledge to be able to actually manage to fulfill these often challenging commandments between us! 


Without emuna, a poor person will not manage to not be jealous of the rich man. Without emuna, the person who was wronged will not be able to forgive the perpetrator in his heart and will fail to keep the commandment not to hate him in his heart. Without emuna, it’s totally impossible to not speak or listen to juicy gossip and slander about others – but with emuna, you don’t even give such information a second thought. And that is why your level of peace with others, and how well you keep the commandments bein adam l’chavero, is the yardstick of your real level of emuna. 


That’s part of why, when you pray that the Jewish people and everyone should return to Hashem, that they should learn and live emuna. Without it, it’s impossible to overcome to instincts and emotions as is necessary to fulfill the exacting, high standard which G-d demands of us in the way we are supposed  to deal with each other. 


Finally – in the next article in the series, I discuss step by step exactly how and what to pray during your time praying for the Jewish people and the world. 

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