The Love of Brothers

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Adapted for this series from Rabbi Yaacov Haber’s “REACHINGS”

Short Story:

Two brothers lived on two sides of a mountain. One was rich but had no children, one had many children but was very poor.

The rich brother thought, I have so much my brother has so little, let me secretly cross the mountain in the middle of the night and bring my brother extra crop. The poor brother said, I derive so much happiness from my children, let me secretly bring my brother some of my crop so he could have a little extra joy in this world.

And so it went every night each of the brothers secretly crossed the mountain to bring their brother food. Every morning the brothers would inspect their stock to learn nothing was missing. Neither could explain the phenomena but they thanked G- d for His kindness and continued in their good will.

After years of this routine a schedule change occurred. Instead of the two brothers missing each other in the night, there on top of the mountain the two brothers met. They looked at each other in surprise and then simultaneously realized what had been happening for all the years. They both spontaneously embraced one another there on top of the mountain as they cried for joy.

Who these two brothers were we do not know, but it was on that mountain top, says the Midrash that G-d decided the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, should be built.

Now another short story:

There was a man who made a party. He instructed his servants to invite his friend Kamtza. His servants erred and invited his enemy Bar Kamtza. (apparently Kamtza’s son). When Bar Kamtza arrived at the party the host was furious. He instructed his servants to oust him.

Bar Kamtza, being very embarrassed pleaded with his host to allow him to stay and even offered to pay for his meal. The host wouldn’t hear of it, Bar Kamtza must leave. The guest begged him not to create a scene and offered to pay for half of the whole party. No way. He upped his proposition and offered to finance the entire price of the party but the host was still adamant.

Bar Kamtza was totally humiliated. He looked around and saw a room full of friends, at the head table were all the Rabbis. No one said a thing. The party went on. Bar Kamtza was so deplored that he went to the government authorities to complain about the Jews. One thing led to the other and Jerusalem was destroyed

From these two stories we learn a simple lesson of history. It was love of two men which caused Jerusalem to be built and hate between men which caused it to be destroyed.

Why is Ahavat Yisrael and Sinat Chinam the criteria for Jerusalem to stand?

Why was this chosen from all the Mitzvot of the Torah?

The Maharal (Netzach Yisrael 4) explains: The purpose of Jerusalem and its Temple is to unite the people of Israel. There was a time where every man built his own little alter in his backyard (bamot). All these individual sacrifices apparently found favor in G-ds’ eyes so he rewarded us with Jerusalem . He forbade the use of bamot and instructed us to designate one place, one Kohain one Mizbeach and thereby become one people. He rewarded our individuality and granted us with family.

Yerushalayim means city of peace. It came about through peace, its purpose is peace and was destroyed due to the lack of it.

Because of the love of brothers Jerusalem was selected. Because of causeless hate – Jerusalem was destroyed.