Vision of Repair Part 2

Every week when I bless the congregation I lead, and before every prayer I say for someone, I first remind myself of the love I am to have for them, I check it, is it still there regardless of how I am feeling at the moment; but I am also reminding myself of God’s love for them. The rabbis explain that when Aaron blessed Israel with the priestly benediction (Num. 6:24-26), he was to do so with love (Sota 39a).

Aaron was to look out over Israel, with all of their complications, and bless them in אהבת חינם/ahavat chinam, or causeless love. His love for them was not based upon their merit, but God’s grace working in and through him.

As I wrote in a previous post, the rabbis say that the second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hate, שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם/sinat chinam (Yoma 9b). While שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם, is often translated as baseless hate, it has a deeper meaning: hatred of grace. Kindness withheld.

If there is a baseless hatred, or hatred of grace, working in the nature of man, then there should be אהבת חינם/ahavat chinam, a causeless love, or love in grace working in the renewed man: a love and grace that is freely given, not earned. The grace between brethren, how we view others and how we love them, must be in keeping with His grace; as Paul writes:

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:1-2).

Certainly, we did not earn this gift of grace, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8); but, once we receive it, we are to walk imitating Him.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine, wrote that if sinat chinam, baseless hatred, caused the destruction of the second Temple, then to rebuild Israel and the third Temple, ahavat chinam, causeless grace/love, would need to be cultivated among the Jewish people.

We can read Scriptures about grace in love and its application: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18); “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:34)l “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn. 13:34); “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (I Jn. 4:16). And the list can easily be expanded; but until we walk in His causeless love, or a love in grace, as difficult as that sometimes is, we will not capture, cultivate or taste its fruit.

Perhaps the most widely known verse of Scripture is found in John 3:16, and it speaks of the Lord’s love for the world/humanity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Or, an alternate reading, “For this is how God loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

For God so loved, He gave. This is the supreme example of ahavat chinam, causeless love, or love in grace. The giving of Yeshua/Jesus, the Son of God. From this act of ahavat chinam, causeless love, a love we did not merit or deserve, is born a vision of renewal, repair and celebration: “Then all the survivors will do up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16). Further, “After these things I looked, and behold, a vast multitude that no one could count – from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues – was standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9; specifically Tabernacles/Sukkot imagery).

Repair, renewal, and rebuilding in the human family requires grace, a grace that in fact has a cause: Him. His giving of causeless, unearned love to us, then flows out into the lives of others as His causeless love through us. If we view others with sinat chinam, a hatred of grace, then they will never merit receiving anything from us, as we will never lower ourselves to them. Yet, if we ourselves, as recipients of His ahavat chinam, causeless love, or love in grace, act as imitators of Him (Eph. 5:1-2), then we will freely give what has been freely given to us: His love, grace, mercy.

The action of ahavat chinam, causeless love, or love in grace, cares, as much as we are able, for the human being before us, made in the image of God. Remember, the love that we are to imitate and example: at times, love is nourishing the body of the unfortunate, or defending the life of those under attack, and in countless other circumstances.

Let us capture His חֲזוֹן/Hazon – vision of renewal, and join in His work of restoration, to His glory, and one day we will celebrate in exuberant praise before the Throne and the Lamb.

Be well. Shalom.

Vision of Repair

This Shabbat is called שבת חזון/Shabbat Hazon, the Sabbath of Vision; and it immediately precedes Tisha B’Av, or the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av. Traditionally it is a fast day remembering many tragic events in Jewish history: the return and false testimony of the spies in the wilderness; the destructions of both Temples in Jerusalem; expulsions from England and Spain; and many other tragic events. It is a time of fasting, and mourning, but also hope.

The haftara, portion after the Torah, reading of Shabbat Hazon is from Isaiah 1:1-27. The name of this Shabbat is taken from the first word of this prophetic book: חֲזוֹן/Hazon – vision. Isaiah opens with an accounting of the waywardness of God’s people. The judgment that is to come, but also a plea of “come let us reason together, says the Lord …” (Isa. 1:18), the hope and vision of reconciliation.

Before one mourns destruction, we must have vision of repair.

Tisha b’Av, as a day of mourning, remembers many tragic events in Jewish history; all attributed to that day. I recall hearing a talk on Tisha b’Av some years ago where the rabbi explained that the reason one day was designated as the day of mourning is because if we were to mourn every event on the day it happened, we would be mourning every day.

The rabbis say that the second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hate, שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם/sinat chinam. While שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם, is often translated as baseless hate, it has a deeper meaning: hatred of grace. The grace that is to be between brethren, how we view others, and how we love them must be in keeping with His grace, as Paul writes, “See that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all” (I Thess. 5:15). Here, Paul is writing of grace through forgiveness, and grace in action (I Cor. 13).

In our moments of struggle with others, heaven forbid that they should come, we must see past the moment, even in the difficulty, to the reconciliation. Before the mourning, the vision. This is the vision of repair of brokenness. It is the vision of grace working, forming and conforming us to the image of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus (Ro. 8:28-29). It is a vision of repair of a broken society.

If שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם/sinat chinam, baseless hatred, a hatred of grace, destroyed the physical Temple in Jerusalem, how much more does does it destroy the Temple of God in us (I Cor. 3:16-17)? We love grace when we are on the receiving end, but we are prone to holding back grace when it is us needing to give.

Beloved friends: grace wasn’t ours in the first place. Give it. Love His grace! Freely give it, especially when the pain is so deep. Have a vision of repair even before the garment is rent. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “If you believe you can break something, have faith that you can repair it.” Messiah Yeshua said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn. 13:34). Again Paul, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

The Body of Messiah is in need of loving repair. It is in need of the grace that saved it to be at work among us. May we return again the Lord who redeemed us, cleansed us, and who so deeply loves us. May we learn to kindly, and even lovingly disagree, not to separation, but Lord willing, ultimately restoration.

It’s hard; but with God, nothing is impossible.

Shabbat Shalom; and I pray He blesses you with a vision of repair, forgiveness, and renewal to His glory. Amen.