Posts Tagged ‘candidate’

Hating and Hate Speech

May 3, 2008

The article below contains an excellent discussion of hating and what it does to us. It relates to this week’s Torah reading.

It’s important especially now in the political season. People become attached to their candidates in an emotional way. And in the heat of battle they come to despise the other candidates and the people who support them. Besides the obvious damage to our psyche and souls, which is adequately discussed in the article, there is another more practical negative consequence that hurts all of us.

Fear and Hating is the tool of politicians. It distracts us from morality and from exercising independent judgment based upon real facts, rather than sound bites that trigger our emotional “hate” response. The fact is that none of really know what any of the candidates will do once in office. We don’t even know what emergencies they will confront. Thus having such iron-clad convictions that we exclude everything contrary to the views of “our” candidate, deprives us all of resources we need in a complicated and difficult world.

My basic rule of thumb when judging a candidate is whether he or she provokes me to think, ponder, and wonder how things could be better. I’m looking for someone who understands the nuances and complexities of the world and trusts me to consider the possibilities. The corollary is that a candidate who engages in attacks, in the politics of fear and hate, is one who cannot be trusted to do anything right for me. 

The fact that attack politics works is predictable. Most of us don’t have the time to consider ambiguity in our lives and we want someone “out there” to “just do it.” When we are on the run and we hear a sound bite how someone will fight for us, that’s all we need to know, or is it?

Hurting in Your Heart 
Torah Portion: Kedoshim
by Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt 

 

We find an interesting mitzvah in this week’s portion: “Don’t hate your brother in your heart” (Leviticus 19:17). The Sages ask the obvious question: Why does the verse say “in your heart”? Where else does one hate?

The Sages explain that there are two ways of hating. You can feel animosity toward someone and not express it externally. You are very nice and very cordial – pleasant even. But deep down you feel anger and frustration at the person.

Alternatively you can express your hatred externally – through words and deeds. You can physically, verbally or emotionally abuse the person you do not like.

Most of us are not saints. When someone does something which hurts us – whether through negligence or with intent – it is hard for us not to feel upset and angry with that person. Perhaps we might even feel animosity. This is normal human emotion and there is nothing wrong with it. The question is how one deals with that emotion once one has it.

To repress the emotion and hate a person only “in your heart” is extremely unhealthy. Unexpressed animosity does not go away. If anything, it festers and grows. The Sages remind us of the story of Absalom who hated Amnon for raping his sister, Tamar. He did not express his hatred in any way and, after a period of time, he ended up killing Amnon.

So what do you do?

Juxtaposed to the command not to “hate in one’s heart” is the command to rebuke others for wrongdoing. It’s very simple. Tell the person you are upset. Don’t abuse, express. Don’t attack; explain the pain you’re feeling.

When someone wrongs you, don’t just let it go, telling yourself it is nothing. We are not that holy. You have to approach the person and talk through what happened. Express your anger and frustration. Make the person understand that you have been hurt, and that you are not trying to make him feel guilty. You merely want to get the emotion you are feeling out of your heart.

In England where I live, we’re not so good at expressing emotions. But the alternative is repressed feelings of which we will eventually lose control. The idea of this commandment is to nip things in the bud. When you get the feeling out, it lessens it. When you express how you feel, it doesn’t seem half as bad.

Author Biography:
Shaul grew up in Liverpool. He studied for his smicha at Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem where he met his first wife Elana a”h who passed away in 2001 after a long struggle with cancer. They had four children together and Shaul has a further two with his second wife Chana, who he married in 2003. Shaul has written a book, ‘Finding Light in the Darkness’, published by Targum Press, dealing with the issue of facing hardship in a positive way. Shaul founded Aish UK in 1993 and Tikun UK in 2006 along with Dean Kaye. He enjoys most things in life.

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