MembersJacob’s Troubles: Where Did We Go Wrong?

What is “Sinat Chinam” and why is it at the root of all Israel’s problems, both in antiquity and right up to our day?

Photo: Najeh Hashlamoun/Flash90

Daily we hear about the massive destruction of homes, livelihoods and loss of life around the world by floods, wars, terror and fires. Such tragedies change our lives and remain etched deep within our personal and national consciousness.

For the Jews it has always been the destruction of our magnificent Temple in Jerusalem that went up in flames even as hundreds of thousands of Jews were tortured, murdered and enslaved.

But long after the fires have died down, the Jewish people are always left with the burning question: “Where did we go wrong? What horrible sin did we commit to deserve such a fate that our entire nation would be dispersed in exile for almost 2,000 years?”

The one answer that has echoed back through the generations, and the reason given for all our troubles, is machloket; the stubborn divisions that drive us apart from one another and lead to disaster.

Already we argued in the desert over whether or not we should go up and settle the Land, and we continued to fight with...

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