Roman-era ruins next to an underground tunnel in the Old City of Jerusalem (AP) (AP)
Roman-era ruins in Jerusalem


Parenting is a huge responsibility. The results can even have a global effect, as we learn from Jewish history and the destruction of the two Holy Temples. 

Tisha B’av is the saddest day of the year, in which we commemorate the destruction of the two Holy Temples that once stood in Jerusalem and, by extension, the exile of the Jewish people and the 2000 years of tragedies that ensued.

One of the most primary readings of Tisha B’av is the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. The story goes as follows:

There was once a man (the Talmud does not tell us his name) who had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza. One day this man threw a party and told his servant to invite Kamtza to the party. But the servant made the mistake of his life and invited Bar Kamtza instead.

When the man, the host of the party, saw his enemy Bar Kamtza sitting at a table, he became enraged and demanded that he leave. Bar Kamtza turned to the host and pleaded: “Please let me stay. I’ll pay for whatever I eat and drink.” But the host refused.

“I’ll pay for half of the entire party, just please let me stay,” Bar Kamtza pleaded, but the host still refused.

“OK, I’ll pay for the entire affair, just please let me stay,” he begged. Again, the host refused, and he had Bar Kamtza forcibly removed.

In his anger and humiliation, Bar Kamtza went and slandered the people to the Roman emperor, claiming that the Jews were rebelling against him. As a result, Jerusalem was destroyed.

The Talmud says, “Jerusalem was destroyed because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.”

The question is asked: What did Kamtza do wrong? Other than being the intended recipient of the original invitation to the party, Kamtza is not even mentioned in the story. How can it be said that he played a role in the destruction of Jerusalem?

One of the answers given is that Kamtza was the father of Bar Kamtza. Indeed, the words “Bar Kamtza” mean “son of Kamtza.”

Still, why is Kamtza blamed? The reason: He apparently raised a child who somehow felt justified lying to the Romans and being responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem because he was thrown out of a party and humiliated. Kamtza raised a child who had poor judgement and, likely, serious anger-management issues. Yes, it is explained, although very indirectly, that Kamtza bears some guilt for the destruction of Jerusalem.

Among all the lessons that Tisha B’av has to offer, one of them is on parenting. Many parents today are afraid to discipline their children properly.

Traditional discipline and values are irreplaceable. Many have tried to substitute them with more liberal, contemporary values, and more often than not, it’s a failure.

Be a good parent simply by disciplining your children – in a reasonable manner, of course. Otherwise, as this story shows, the ramifications can be enormous.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

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