Parshas Kedoshim

Please Talk To Me!

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall certainly rebuke your friend ….” (Vayikra 19:17)

Numerous times, every single day, in our heartfelt tefillos, we beseech Hashem to send Moshiach and to rebuild the Bais HaMikdash. We have been asking for almost 2,000 years! Why hasn’t Hashem responded to our tefillos?

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l answers this question. Our first Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because of three terrible sins: idolatry, immorality, and murder. During the period of the second Bais HaMikdash, the Jews were involved in learning Torah, doing mitzvos, and performing acts of kindness. Yet, our Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because we harbored baseless hatred in our hearts.

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l says that since unwarranted hatred caused the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, that sin must first be repaired before the Bais HaMikdash can be rebuilt. One of the mitzvos in the Torah is not to hate our fellow Jew in our heart (Vayikra 19:17). That applies to all Jews, regardless of their knowledge or observance. The only exception is that one is permitted to hate a heretic.

According to the Torah, as soon as a person distances himself mentally and emotionally from his fellow Jew, he begins to violate the prohibition of hating a Jew. At times, a very minor annoyance can balloon into a full-fledged hatred in one’s heart.

Hating a fellow Jew in one’s heart, covers one’s heart with a spirit of impurity which can last for eternity, even in the World to Come. The Talmud (Shabbos 32) lists a few, very serious punishments, to one who harbors unwarranted hatred in his heart.

Why is this sin of harboring hatred so severe that it equaled the three major sins of idolatry, immorality, and murder? The Chofetz Chaim zt”l explains that, unlike other sins with which a person sins one time, every moment that one’s heart feels hatred, one is sinning anew. Sometimes the feelings of hatred last a month, sometimes a year, and sometimes even longer! Additionally, hatred is the root cause of many other serious sins such as dissension, lashon hara, hurtful speech, the embarrassment of others, slander, and even murder!

What triggers the feelings of baseless hatred? Often, it stems from jealousy of one’s friend’s success, the honor that he receives, or his good middos.

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l says that it is foolish to be jealous of another’s wealth. Being wealthy is a challenge which not everyone can manage successfully. Hashem knows who is capable of being a custodian for wealth, sharing enough of it properly with appropriate charitable causes. Sometimes Hashem gives wealth to one who is notably undeserving to reward him for his few mitzvos. That is so that he won’t receive an even greater reward for his few good deeds in the World to Come.

It is foolish to be jealous of another’s success in business, feeling that he is encroaching on your business. Hashem predetermines one’s success or failure. No one can take even a penny from you if it was not predetermined by Hashem.

It is also pointless being jealous of the honor that another is receiving instead of you. Hashem honors those who deserve it. If you try to disgrace a person’s honor, you will become more disgraced by others.

Furthermore, we each have different missions to accomplish in our lives. Hashem gives us all that we need to accomplish our specific mission. If there is something that we feel we are lacking, it is because we do not need it to fulfill our life’s mission.

What can we do to remove this terrible sin from our hearts?

The Chofetz Chaim zt”l suggests that we “talk to” the yetzer hara who tries to implant ill feelings in our heart towards our friend. He tries to get us angry at others. We should tell the yetzer hara that we hate him for he distorts reality and tries to get us to sin. Those words will help erase the hatred from our hearts.

Judging our fellow Jew favorably can help stop hatred from taking root in our hearts. It can also help remove any hatred that we may already feel.

Sometimes one is upset because his friend did not do him a favor. It says in Pirkei Avos (2:5) that we should not judge our fellow Jew (Avos 2:5) unless we are in his place. Had the situation been reversed and we were in the position to do the favor with the same set of circumstances that your friend had, maybe we would not have acted any differently than he. Perhaps we would have also refused to do the favor.

Many commentaries say that the best advice is communication. Chizkuni & Bchor Shor (Vayikra 19:17) say that if someone made negative comments about you or falsely accused you of wrongdoing, behind your back, don’t bottle-up resentment in your heart by hating him. Rather, in a soft tone, approach him and ask, “Why did you do that to me? What prompted you to act that way towards me?” Perhaps you will be able to prove to him that he had completely misinterpreted your action. This is not merely a good idea to bridge peace. Even if you are convinced that your remonstrations will not help at all, the Torah obligates you to attempt a reconciliation.

Similarly, the Or HaChaim says that you must communicate. Do not assume that the action done against you cause was done purposely. Do not assume that he feels hostility towards you. Give him the benefit of the doubt and discuss the matter with him. Your discussion will give him the opportunity to explain why he said or did what he did. Once you hear his reason for what he did, the hatred may be erased from your heart. Your open communication may also help change his attitude towards you. This conversation can lead to harmonious relations.

Especially during this period of Sefiras haOmer, we should do all we can to promote peace with each other.

(The dvar Torah is largely based on Ahavas Yisroel by the Chofetz Chaim zt”l)