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  • The Baseless Hatred Mystery Revealed

    by Shmuel Katanov

     Our Chachamim z"l tell us that the First Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because of three sins: Avodah Zarah/Idolatry, Shefichat Damim/Murder, and Arayot/Adultery. The second Temple of only one sin - Sinat Chinam - Baseless Hatred.

    Each of the sins are bad in their own right, but it took three sins to bring down the First Temple and only one the Second. Why? Why only one, what is so destructive and bad about it?

    Let's dive into Sinat Chinam cause I believe the reasons for the destruction of the First Temple are pretty self explanatory.

    So what is Sinat Chinam? It is Baseless Hatred or simply Hate that is coming from a place of evil. It's a wish to see another's demise or failure and when you in that hating mode you observe and translate anything that person does to negative with no benefit of a doubt.

    When you hate you always pursue the harm of another. You speak of him in harmful way, you make up stories so you get more people on your side to believe the lies, so he can have enemies. You speak and spread lashon hara - an evil speech, because you want others to see him in a bad way. You may say things to his spouse, so the family will have no peace and eventually falls apart. You accuse him and his children, so it should effect their shidduchim/marriage prospects. You make sure his reputation is ruined in his community and places of business. You make sure your family and people around him show him a cold shoulder so he feels unwanted and unbelonged.

    All of this is done stealthily where few people involved in the community or many across many communities. In our times, all of the above can be accomplished with just few clicks of the computer or the phone.

    Because of this ugly behavior, of the few or the many, Hashem has destroyed the Second Temple. So if the Temple is destroyed and it may seem like nothing is at stake today, what do we have to lose this time around?

    Chachamim tell us, that when a new family is born, the chatan and kallah are on their way to build something enormously holy - their Own Bet Hamikdash, where each room of their house resembles the original Temple. The bedroom is like the Holy of Holies, the living room table is like a Mizbeach where we cater the guests and consume our earthly sacrifices. Kitchen is where it's all prepared to the strict laws of kashrut.

    Our houses and shules are small Batey haMikdashim. This is where Shechina rests, this is where the mitzvot are done and kedusha is kept.

    Hashem wants peace and unity between people in the community or between communities, where people help each other, happy for each other, where they see good in each other with no jealousy and hate towards each other. Where they want others to have better houses, cars, vacations, respect and accessories. This is what Hashem expects from his people.

    Second Temple was destroyed because of Hate, the most ugliest trait that consumes many communities and people no matter their religious backgrounds. The solution to it is Achavat Chinam - Baseless Love. Otherwise our small Batey haMikdashim are at stake.

    The Sages taught, "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

    Our job is to change for the better, to do good to others, more of baseless love and no hate and animosity towards others - be it in their own community or outside of it, better ourselves in our servitude to Hashem and earn the merit to see Moshiach and the Third Beit Hamikdash rebuilt in our days. Amen.


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  • Loving the Stranger

    by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

    There are commands that leap off the page by their sheer moral power. So it is in the case of the social legislation in Mishpatim. Amid the complex laws relating to the treatment of slaves, personal injury and property, one command in particular stands out, by virtue of its repetition (it appears twice in our parsha), and the historical-psychological reasoning that lies behind it:

    Do not ill-treat a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in Egypt. (Exodus 22:20)
    Do not oppress a stranger; you yourselves know how it feels to be a stranger [literally, “you know the soul of a stranger”], because you were strangers in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

    Mishpatim contains many laws of social justice – against taking advantage of a widow or orphan, for example, or charging interest on a loan to a fellow member of the covenantal community, against bribery and injustice, and so on. The first and last of these laws, however, is the repeated command against harming a ger, a “stranger.” Clearly something fundamental is at stake in the Torah’s vision of a just and gracious social order.

    If a person was a son of proselytes, one must not taunt him by saying, “Remember the deeds of your ancestors,” because it is written “Do not ill-treat a stranger or oppress him.”

    The Sages noted the repeated emphasis on the stranger in biblical law. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the Torah “warns against the wronging of a ger in thirty-six places; others say, in forty-six places.”[1]

    Whatever the precise number, the repetition throughout the Mosaic books is remarkable. Sometimes the stranger is mentioned along with the poor; at others, with the widow and orphan. On several occassions the Torah specifies: “You shall have the same law for the stranger as for the native-born.”[2] Not only must the stranger not be wronged; he or she must be included in the positive welfare provisions of Israelite/ Jewish society. But the law goes beyond this; the stranger must be loved:

    When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The stranger living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your G-d. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

    This provision appears in the same chapter as the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Later, in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses makes it clear that this is the attribute of G-d Himself:

    “For the Lord your G-d is G-d of gods and Lord of lords, the great G-d, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are strangers, for you yourselves were strangers in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10 17-19)

    What is the logic of the command? The most profound commentary is that given by Nachmanides:

    The correct interpretation appears to me to be that He is saying: do not wrong a stranger or oppress him, thinking as you might that none can deliver him out of your hand; for you know that you were strangers in the land of Egypt and I saw the oppression with which the Egyptian oppressed you, and I avenged your cause on them, because I behold the tears of such who are oppressed and have no comforter…Likewise you shall not afflict the widow and the orphan for I will hear their cry, for all these people do not rely upon themselves but trust in Me.

    And in another verse he added this reason: for you know what it feels like to be a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. That is to say, you know that every stranger feels depressed, and is always sighing and crying, and his eyes are always directed towards G-d, therefore He will have mercy upon him even as He showed mercy to you [and likewise He has mercy on all who are oppressed].[3]

    According to Nachmanides the command has two dimensions. The first is the relative powerlessness of the stranger. He or she is not surrounded by family, friends, neighbors, a community of those ready to come to their defense. Therefore the Torah warns against wronging them because G-d has made Himself protector of those who have no one else to protect them. This is the political dimension of the command. The second reason, as we have already noted, is the psychological vulnerability of the stranger (we recall Moses’ own words at the birth of his first son, while he was living among the Midianites: “I am a stranger in a strange land,” Exodus 2:22). The stranger is one who lives outside the normal securities of home and belonging. He or she is, or feels, alone – and, throughout the Torah, G-d is especially sensitive to the sigh of the oppressed, the feelings of the rejected, the cry of the unheard. That is the emotive dimension of the command.

    Rabbi Chayim ibn Attar (Ohr HaChayim) adds a further fascinating insight. It may be, he says, that the very sanctity that Israelites feel as children of the covenant may lead them to look down on those who lack a similar lineage. Therefore they are commanded not to feel superior to the ger, but instead to remember the degradation their ancestors experienced in Egypt.[4] As such, it becomes a command of humility in the face of strangers.

    Whichever way we look at it, there is something striking about this almost endlessly iterated concern for the stranger – together with the historical reminder that “you yourselves were slaves in Egypt.” It is as if, in this series of laws, we are nearing the core of the mystery of Jewish existence itself. What is the Torah implying?

    Concern for social justice was not unique to Israel.[5] What we sense, however, throughout the early biblical narrative, is the lack of basic rights to which outsiders could appeal. Not by accident is the fate of Sodom and the cities of the plain sealed when they attempt to assault Lot’s two visitors. Nor can we fail to feel the risk to which Abraham and Isaac believe they are exposed when they are forced to leave home and take refuge in Egypt or the land of the Philistines. In each of the three episodes (Genesis chapters 12, 20, 26) they are convinced that their lives are at stake; that they may be murdered so that their wives can be taken into the royal harem.

    There are also repeated implications, in the course of the Joseph story, that in Egypt, Israelites were regarded as pariahs (the word “Hebrew,” like the term hapiru found in the non-Israelite literature of the period, seems to have a strong negative connotation). One verse in particular – when the brothers visit Joseph a second time – indicates the distaste with which they were regarded:

    They served him [ Joseph] by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. (Genesis 43:32)

    So it was, in the ancient world. Hatred of the foreigner is the oldest of passions, going back to tribalism and the prehistory of civilization. The Greeks called strangers “barbarians” because of their (as it seemed to them) outlandish speech that sounded like the bleating of sheep.[6] The Romans were equally dismissive of non-Hellenistic races. The pages of history are stained with blood spilled in the name of racial or ethnic conflict. It was precisely this to which the Enlightenment, the new “age of reason,” promised an end. It did not happen. In 1789, in revolutionary France, as the Rights of Man were being pronounced, riots broke out against the Jewish community in Alsace. Hatred against English and German immigrant workers persisted throughout the nineteenth century. In 1881 in Marseilles a crowd of ten thousand went on a rampage attacking Italians and their property. Dislike of the unlike is as old as mankind. This fact lies at the very heart of the Jewish experience. It is no coincidence that Judaism was born in two journeys away from the two greatest civilizations of the ancient world: Abraham’s from Mesopotamia, Moses’ and the Israelites’ from Pharaonic Egypt. The Torah is the world’s great protest against empires and imperialism. There are many dimensions to this protest. One dimension is the protest against the attempt to justify social hierarchy and the absolute power of rulers in the name of religion. Another is the subordination of the masses to the state – epitomized by the vast building projects, first of Babel, then of Egypt, and the enslavement they entailed. A third is the brutality of nations in the course of war (the subject of Amos’ oracles against the nations). Undoubtedly, though, the most serious offense – for the prophets as well as the Mosaic books – was the use of power against the powerless: the widow, the orphan and, above all, the stranger.

    To be a Jew is to be a stranger. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this was why Abraham was commanded to leave his land, home and father’s house; why, long before Joseph was born, Abraham was already told that his descendants would be strangers in a land not their own; why Moses had to suffer personal exile before assuming leadership of the people; why the Israelites underwent persecution before inheriting their own land; and why the Torah is so insistent that this experience – the retelling of the story on Passover, along with the never-forgotten taste of the bread of affliction and the bitter herbs of slavery – should become a permanent part of their collective memory.

    It is terrifying in retrospect to grasp how seriously the Torah took the phenomenon of xenophobia, hatred of the stranger. It is as if the Torah were saying with the utmost clarity: the reason is insufficient. Sympathy is inadequate. Only the force of history and memory is strong enough to form a counterweight to hate.

    The Torah asks, why should you not hate the stranger? Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you. You must fight the hatred in your heart as I once fought the greatest ruler and the strongest empire in the ancient world on your behalf. I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the color of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image, says G-d, they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
    Source

     

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  • Беспричинная ненависть или что на кону?

    Шмуэль Катанов

    Наши мудрецы рассказывают что Первый Храм был разрушен из за трёх нарушений: поклонению идолам, убийствам и прелюбодеянию. Второй Храм был разрушен только из за одного греха - Синат Хинам - Беспричинная Ненависть.

    Все грехи из за которых был разрушен Первый Храм плохи сами по себе, но я хотел бы поговорить только об одном грехе который называется - беспричинной ненавистью. Давайте разберём его по деталям.

    Так что же является Синат Хинам? Это беспричинная ненависть или просто ненависть которая выходит из корня зла внутри человека. Это желание увидеть смерть или неудачу своего врага и когда человек в этом состоянии, всё что бы не делал "его враг" он будет воспринимать всё как негативное и никогда не усомнится в правоте своих убеждений и всегда найдёт защиту своим проступкам.

    Когда человек ненавидит, он всегда старается навредить своей жертве. Он говорит о нём плохо, выдумывает ложные истории чтоб иметь больше людей на своей стороне и чтоб у его жертвы было много врагов. Говорит и распространяет о нём лашон ара - злословие, слухи и сплетни - этим ломая и не обращая никакого внимания на множество законов Торы и мудрецов. Он делает всё чтоб разрушить его семью и сломать гармонию и мир его дома. Он портит ему репутацию в его общине и в месте где он зарабатывает свой хлеб. Он убеждает свою семью и людей вокруг чтоб к нему относились плохо. Это и многое другое делается скрытно и этим занимаются несколько людей в общине или многие во многих общинах.

    Из за этого уродливого поведения этих людей, Вс-вышний разрушил Второй Храм. Так если два Храма уже разрушены и нет ничего другого чего Вс-вышний может у нас отнять сегодня, получается что мы неприкосновенны и нам нечего бояться?!

    Мудрецы говорят, когда рождается новая семья, муж и жена создают и строят что-то грандиозно большое и святое - их собственный Бет Хамикдаш - Храм, где каждая комната у них в доме подразумевает тот оригинальный Храм. Спальня это Святая  Святых, стол в зале - это Мизбеях там мы принимаем гостей  и поглощаем наши земные приношения. Кухня это место где всё приготавливается по всем строгим законам кашрута.

    Наши дома, синагоги и религиозные заведения являются теми маленькими Батэй Микдашим - нашими Храмами. Эти места где находится присутствие Вс-вышнего, где делаются митцвот и где прибывает Святость.

    Вс-вышний хочет мира и единства между людьми в общине и между общинами, где люди помогают друг другу, рады за других, где видят только хорошее в других без зависти и ненависти к другим. Где они желают другим лучшие дома, машины, отпуска, уважение и тому подобное. Всё это и многое другое Вс-вышний не хочет а требует от нас.

    Второй Храм был разрушен из за ненависти, которая является самой уродливой чертой, которая поглощает многие общины и людей не зависимо от их уровня религиозности. Избавление от этого недуга является Ахават Хинам - Беспричинной Любовью.

    Наши Мудрецы говорят, "В том поколении в котором Храм не был построен, как будто он был разрушен в их дни" (Иерусалимский Талмуд, Трактам Ёма страница 1а). Потому что это поколение следует по тем же стопам тех поколений из за которых был разрушен Храм, не стараясь исправить их ошибки.

    Продолжая этим путём, мы ставим свои маленькие Батэй Микдашим - храмы под удар. 

    Наша работа состоит в том чтоб измениться в лучшую сторону делая хорошие дела, уважать и помогать другим просто так, отречься от ненависти и злобы - к членам своей общины и к окружающим, улучшить нашу службу к Вс-вышнему и заслужить увидеть Мошияха, избавления и построения Третьего Храма в наши дни.

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  • The Baseless Hatred Mystery Revealed
    by Shmuel KatanovOur Chachamim z"l tell us that the First Bet Hamikdash was destroyed because of three sins: Avodah...
  • Loving the Stranger
    by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks There are commands that leap off the page by their sheer moral power. So it is in the case of the social...
  • Беспричинная ненависть или что на кону?
    Шмуэль КатановНаши мудрецы рассказывают что Первый Храм был разрушен из за трёх нарушений: поклонению идолам, убийствам и...
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    by Shmuel KatanovIn the story of Joseph and the brothers, there's one incident that sticks out and makes this whole story look...