Love wins over Hate (Acharei Mot – Kedoshim)
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Torah attempts to legislate a good, just, socially responsible society. It introduces multiple laws, a significant percentage of which remain the foundation of Western civilization: The more obvious ones like don’t murder and don’t steal; setting up courts; convictions based on corroborated and verified testimony; financial laws legislating honest business practices and safeguarding of the consumer, and much more.
However, the Torah’s concern for how we relate to our fellow man seems to take this social responsibility to extremes, to even regulate how we feel about our fellow man, even people who we may have good reason to dislike.
In this week’s reading, the Torah commands us not to gossip, not to hate our brothers in our heart, not to take vengeance, or not even to bear a grudge.
Elsewhere, the Torah strengthens the command of not hating nor bearing a grudge, by giving a specific example. If you see a person that you hate struggling with his laden donkey, you must help him.
The Bechor Shor on Leviticus 19:18 touches on the danger of pent-up hatred. If there’s an issue, if your friend did something untoward, it should be pointed out (if possible and if it will be productive). Holding a grudge is unhealthy and eventually leads to even more destructive vengeance of one type or another.
The Bechor Shor explains that God is telling us that “your love of Me (God) can outweigh your hatred of your friend.” If your friend asks you to lend him something, when he didn’t help you in your time of need, even though he was ostensibly able to, nonetheless, you are commanded to help him. Don’t take even petty vengeance or have a grudge that grows and festers into cancerous vindictiveness that contaminates human relations.
Rather, through one’s love of God, one can overcome and even forget one’s hatred. Eventually, forced graciousness will lead to genuine rapprochement, renewed peace, and stronger friendship.
May we find ways to make peace with friends we may have offended, and vice-versa.
On the birth of our great-nephew, Yehoshua Yechiel Spitz. Mazal Tov!
On our son Netanel’s enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.