“DON’T HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART”
Copyright (C) 1975 by Holy Beggars’ Gazette
Reprinted by permission of the Holy Beggars.
San Francisco, 5735.
Transcribed by (Rabbi) Elana Rappaport (Schachter),
Reb Shlomo speaking.
Shlomo’s teachings on Mitzva 238,
“DON’T HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART”
The mitzva in the Torah is “don’t hate your brother in your
heart.” If I hit someone, G-d forbid, am I violating the law of
not hating? The Rambam says you are not permitted to hit, but
not because of the mitzva against hatred. Not being permitted
to hit is another law. The law we’re talking about is that you
are not permitted to hate in your heart. If I hit someone and I
hate him at the same time, I am violating two laws. You are not
permitted to hate, and you are not permitted to hit, but one
has nothing to do with the other.
There were a few people who wrote down all 613 commandments.
Maimonides (Rambam) was one. Another was Chinuch, who was in
Spain later on, and he says hatred in the heart is the cause of a
lot of evil things between people. This is the cause of the “sword
between man and his brother.” In those days people would tell on
each other to the police, give each other to the government. He
says this is the lowest and ugliest and most repulsive emotion
there can be in anyone who has a little bit of sense. The G’mora
says an evil eye, evil spirits, and hatred of people can mamaash
kill you. That can mean two things. If I fight with people there
might be a whole war, and I might be killed, but that is not the
real point. It is possible to die of hatred. It can eat up my
heart. I could hate someone so much I could get a heart attack,
just from hating. Overhating. Who is the strongest of the strong?
The strongest of the strong is someone who can love someone who
hates him. Turning the other cheek means I walk up to you and say,
“You hit me once, thank you, so hit me again.” According to my
theory, if someone hits you, say, “Will you please take your paws
off.” I’ll tell you, if a little man hates me, should I hate him
back, because he hates me? He should cut me down to his size?
The G’mora says something even stronger. When you hate
somebody you are mamash killing. You don’t have to use a knife, you
know. Targum says something different. What is the law of not
hating your brother in your heart? According to Targum you are not
transgressing the law if you just hate someone. You are
transgressing the law when you tell someone you love him, but in
your heart you don’t mean it. So according to him, hating your
brother in your heart means your mouth says something different
from what your heart feels. According to Maimonides, I trangress
whenever I hate somebody. If I hate five times a day, I transgress
five times a day. According to Jonathan I am only transgressing
this law if I talk to the person, but don’t tell him I don’t like him.
Jonathan says that when you hate, you are tearing out all that is
good in your soul. The goodness is completely destroyed by the hatred.
Here is another interpretation of this mitzva. Since the Torah
says ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ naturally you cannot hate.
You shouldn’t have to say it, so why does the Torah say ‘don’t hate
your brother?’ The contradicton probably didn’t bother Maimonides
very much. There is one law of loving, and another against hating.
Targum was still bothered by the contradiction that if you have to
love, naturally you are not permitted to hate. His answer is that it
means that if you hate someone and you can’t help it, don’t lie and
say you like him. He also says it is talking about somebody who is
really bad, an evil person. It is permissible to hate someone like
that, but not in your heart. According to him I am transgressing if
I don’t say, “Listen, I hate you because you did wrong.” You can keep
the hatred if it is against evil, but not in your heart. Maimonides
also says you have to tell the person, “I hate you, and don’t know
what to do.” His point is that you have to try to get rid of the
hatred, because the Torah says we are not permitted to hate. Tell
the person, because how else can you get out of hatred? Telling is
the only way. Maybe I hate you because I think you did wrong, but
maybe I only know half the story. Probably 95% of the people hate
each other because they misjudge each other for one reason or another.
The Yad HaK’tana, the ‘little hand,’ was another little holy man
who wrote down all 613 mitzvot, about four hundred years ago. He
says anything which you keep in your heart grows in a very deep
way. If you hate someone in your heart and you don’t tell him, it
will grow until it will eat you up. If you tell the person, even if
you still hate him, at least the hatred won’t grow, won’t become
stronger. If you tell him, “I hate you,” at least there is contact
between you. Then he says, “What do you do if you hate people for
no reason, and you can’t get out of it?” The only way out is
loving people for no reason. Just love, because love is a very holy
fire that will drag out all the darkness of hatred.