The Sages tell us the story behind Emperor Nero's conviction that the Jews were rebelling against Rome. As mentioned earlier, the nation had fallen to a low spiritual state characterized by baseless hatred. The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza was the pivotal event that ignited Nero's rage and caused the destruction of the Holy Temple:

A Jew who had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza made a feast. He told his servant to invite Kamtza, but by mistake the servant invited Bar Kamtza. Bar Kamtza took this as a gesture of forgiveness and put on his finest clothes and attended the feast. But when the host noticed Bar Kamtza, he demanded that he leave.

Bar Kamtza was embarrassed. "Since I am here," he requested, "let me stay. I will pay for whatever I eat and drink." But the host refused his offer.

"Then allow me to pay half the cost of the whole feast," begged Bar Kamtza.


"Then I am willing to pay the full cost of the feast, but do not embarrass me any more..."

The host had Bar Kamtza dragged from the feast and thrown into the streets.

Bar Kamtza stood up, brushed the dust from his clothing and said to himself: "Since the rabbis were present at the feast and did not stop him, this shows they agreed with him. I'll slander them to the Emperor!"

Bar Kamtza went to Emperor Nero and told him that the Jews were planning a rebellion against him. "How do I know that to be true?" Nero asked. "Send an offering to the Temple and see if it will be accepted," Bar Kamtza said.

Nero sent a choice calf with Bar Kamtza, along with a delegation of Romans. During the journey, Bar Kamtza secretly made a blemish on the animal, disqualifying the animal as a sacrifice, and the animal was not accepted.

The delegation returned to Rome and told the emperor that his offering had been refused. Emperor Nero was furious, and the ramifications of his fury brought about one of the darkest chapters in our history.

Rabbi Elazar said, "Come and see how great is the punishment for causing embarrassment—for G‑d assisted Bar Kamtza [i.e., He allowed Bar Kamtza's plot to succeed because of the embarrassment caused him] and He destroyed His house and burned His Tabernacle."