We are striving to love our fellow Jews by improving
the way we interact with others.
Last week’s Stretch of the Week: Make an effort to perform a specific act of kindness for someone you normally wouldn’t do anything for.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look
Do not Hate
Part 1 - Hidden and Exposed Animosity
We are not allowed to harbor hatred in our hearts. In addition to the prohibition of lo sisna, or feeling hatred in one’s heart for a Jew (without justification in accordance with Jewish law), this constitutes a violation of the commandment to love our fellow Jew. However, if we release that hatred and express it by striking a person whether physically, with words, or even deny him a favor because of our hatred, then, according to many opinions, we are guilty of transgressing the prohibition of lo sisna, in addition to whatever other sins we may have committed along the way.
However, in the case of one who knowingly, and intentionally, violates Torah commandments we are allowed to hate this person. According to some opinions we are not permitted to hate him secretly while making an outward show of friendliness to him but should express our hatred openly.
The Torah teaches us that we should not pretend to be someone’s friend while hating him in our heart. Instead, we should express our grievances privately, so as not to embarrass him, and ask him pleasantly to explain his actions. If this rebuke is presented properly, one of two things will likely occur. Either we will find out that he was justified in what he did, or he will admit his mistake, apologize and we will be able to forgive him. That being said, we must proceed with great caution, because a wrong word or tone may initiate a full-blown feud. Sometimes it is best to approach the person through a letter or messenger and to seek rabbinical advice before proceeding.
Sometimes, it is advisable to forgo the opportunity to give rebuke and instead work on uprooting the hatred by forgiving the person completely. Once we have informed him of the reason for our hatred and brought the issue out into the open, we are no longer liable for violating the mitzvah of lo sisna. As the Chofetz Chaim states, “hatred in the heart is the most potent of all”.
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Having been divorced for several years, I was thrilled when a close friend introduced me to a warm, caring man. He was recently divorced when we met and proposed shortly after our first date. When we married, I willingly moved to his hometown. I was excited about my marriage, making new friends, and living in a new community. I did not realize, though, that I was walking into a personal minefield. My husband’s married daughter somehow developed a hatred towards me. She ignored my greetings and shunned my overtures at friendship.
Since we lived in the same community, my husband’s daughter and I would see each other often. Being a friendly person, when I first randomly bumped into her on the street, I wished her “Good Shabbos.” She looked away and didn’t respond. “That’s odd,” I thought. “Not responding is one thing, but looking away? I know she doesn’t like me but this is downright rude!” I was angry and replayed the incident in my mind a few times. I realized that I’m responsible for my own reactions and that I was judging her. “Maybe she didn’t hear me so I’ll try again next time”, I thought to myself.
A few months later, there was family bar mitzvah. At the hall, I walked right by my husband’s daughter and wished her a “Mazel tov.” Again, she turned away, not acknowledging the greeting. This time I was sure she had heard me.
“What’s going on here? How could she not acknowledge a ‘mazel tov’? Who wouldn’t want to hear as many “mazel tovs” as possible? Why wouldn’t she respond to me? What did I do to her? Why would someone would ignore me?”
I realized that something was off here and I felt sad. Someone hated me enough to not acknowledge a heartfelt greeting. I knew that her feelings and actions were her responsibility and tried to find a way to judge this situation favorably. I couldn’t, at least in that moment.
Eventually, I realized that I cannot befriend everyone or control another person’s actions. As pleasant as I can be, there are people who may hate me because of something they are experiencing, and not because I’m not a likeable person. While my husband tried to remedy the situation, I simply tried to distance myself from her while praying that she would overcome whatever was causing her pain about my presence.
Several years later, there was one more time when we came in direct contact at another family occasion. “What are you doing here?” she yelled. “You don’t belong here. You’ll embarrass the family!” “Could we step outside and discuss this?” I asked quietly, hoping to diffuse the situation.
“No! We have no reason to go outside! You do. You need to leave. Now!” she screamed.
As I left, I pondered the situation. I had hoped that by responding with warmth and concern, there would be some positive interaction but, clearly, the hatred hadn’t gone away. The only antidote was to pray for her good and to make a conscious choice to not become angry and resentful.
Discussion Question Options:
When people perceive they are hated, why does the victim often blame himself as opposed to realizing that the other person has personal issues?
If you observed an altercation at a public event, what would you do?
When you hate someone and feel justified in your hatred, how can you work on yourself to overcome this?
Stretch of the Week:
Find someone you may be angry with, or have ignored for some reason, and initiate greeting him positively.