Why did Bar Kamtza attend the feast?
During the third meal of Shabbat, seuda shlishit, on Parshat Mattot-Masei before Tisha B’Av, Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, shared some awesome Torah ideas about the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, which our Sages teach sparked the ultimate destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (See Gittin, 55-56).
In that story, a person who was feuding with a man named Bar Kamtza, but who was friendly with a man named Kamtza, sent his servant to invite Kamtza to his feast. The servant made a mistake and invited Bar Kamtza – the enemy. When Bar Kamta showed up to the feast, the host was furious, and despite Bar Kamtza’s entreaties and offer to pay for the whole affair, publically ejected him from the proceedings.
Bar Kamtza took his revenge by going to the Romans and telling them the Jews were planning to revolt, and that he could prove it. If the Romans would send a sacrifice to the Temple, they would see that the Jews would refer to offer it up on the altar.
Bar Kamtza made sure of this, by creating a small blemish in the animal that only the Jews would notice, which would disqualify the animal for being offered up as a sacrifice in the Temple.
Rav Berland said the following:
“Why did Bar Kamtza go to the seuda? After all, he knew that the host hated him. And after all, Bar Kamtza himself also powerfully hated the host too. So why did he go to the feast?
“The Maharash says, that Bar Kamtza really wanted to make peace. He said to himself: ‘I am willing to swallow my pride.’ Bar Kamtza was a tzaddik. He said, ‘I am willing to swallow my pride.’
“But, the moment that Kamtza hurt him and ashamed him, then he said: ‘Now, I’m going to destroy the Beit HaMikdash!’ A man goes to make peace, he already swallowed his pride, and now they hurt and embarrass him further.
“Now, he’s going to go and destroy the Temple.”