“Now, if You would but forgive their sin! If not, please erase me from Your Book that You have written.”

-Ki Tissa 32:32

We have here a crucial principle. Moses interceded on behalf of Israel to the utmost, even when the people had sunk to the lowest level. He negated himself completely (“If not, please erase me from Your Book”). Indeed, his defense of Israel succeeded, and G‑d forgave them.

Every one of us can, and must, learn from this. It is not enough to simply work with the “lost and cast-off souls” of our fellow-Jews. One must, first of all, judge kindly and speak favorably about them, if for no other reason but the fact that their condition is not of their own making but because they do not know better. This kind of approach will of itself help to correct their faults.

We must keep in mind that the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) was destroyed on account of gratuitous hatred (Yoma 9b). This cause must be undone by means of gratuitous love, by loving every single Jew unconditionally, even when one fails to find any justification for loving him. Ahavat chinam (gratuitous love) implies loving even those who are in a state of “chinam-devoid of mitzvot.”

Undoing the cause undoes the effect, and the third Beit Hamikdash will be rebuilt by Moshiach speedily in our days.