Hatred and war is everywhere on planet Earth.
We devote the lion’s shares of our resources to support armies and supply weapons. In many countries the army easily receives everything it needs to threaten and mass murder while hospitals struggle to have what they need to heal. And many poor do not have enough to eat.
The Torah describes that this began when the humans ingested the ‘Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Bad/Evil’. We internalized the capacity to behave negatively. Adam and Eve, who were created as ‘essence of each others’ essences and flesh of each others’ flesh’ suddenly saw the differences between themselves as primary. The first act recorded after leaving the Garden of Eden was brother killing brother.
Human history and activities have continued to focus on the differences between us as primary. Brothers have been killing brothers ever since. While sisters everywhere continue to mourn their families’ deaths. World War Two was the bloodiest war in history with 85 million deaths. At least 60 different wars have been and continue to be waged all over the world since. (1)
What must we do to reduce and eliminate hatred and war?
How can we grow and spread love and peace?
Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook ZT”L was very concerned about this primary planetary human challenge. He wrote and spoke about it extensively. Let us review relevant selections from ‘Midot HaRaya-The Moral Principles’. This very important sefer (link to Hebrew text below) begins with a chapter on Ahava-Love which also addresses the reality of hate:
“The heart must be filled with love for all.
The love of all creation comes first, then comes the love for all humankind, and then follows the love for Israel. It is the destiny of Israel to serve toward the perfection of all.
All of these loves are to be expressed in practical action by pursuing the welfare of those we are bidden to love, and to seek their well-being and advancement….
The love for people must be alive in the heart and soul, a love for all people and a love for all nations. This love must express itself in a desire for their spiritual and material advancement.” (Midot HaRaya:Ahava/Love)
Rav Kook is expressing (in the name of the Torah) a pure, complete and very active idealism. What about hatred?
“Hatred may direct itself only toward the evil and filth in the world….Whenever we encounter, in our classic tradition, allusions to hatred, the references are clearly to the phenomenon of evil which has forcibly disrupted the unity of many nations at the present time and throughout history….
We must realize that the life process, its inherent light and holiness, never leaves the Divine image, with which each person and each nation has been endowed….
It is because of this perspective on life that we are concerned that the fullest progress prevails in the world, for the ascent of justice, merged with beauty and vitality and for the perfection of all creation. This must commence with humankind, in all the practical groupings through which humans function….
The degree of love in the soul of the righteous must embrace all creatures, it excludes nothing, and no people or tongue. Even the wicked Amalek’s name is to be erased by Biblical injunction only ‘from under the heavens’ (Exod. 17:14) But through ‘cleansing’ Amalek may be raised to the source of the good, which is above the heavens, and is then included in the higher love….” (Ibid)
This ideal is hugely challenging. How can we love those who do evil?
“Though our love for people must be all-inclusive, embracing the wicked as well, this does not at all blunt our hatred for evil itself; on the contrary it strengthens it. For it is not because of the dimension of evil clinging to someone that we include them in our love, but because of the good in them. Our love tells us this good is to be found everywhere.
And since we detach the dimension of the good to love the person for it, our hatred for evil becomes unblunted and absolute.
It is proper to hate a corrupt person only for their defects, but insofar as they are endowed with a Divine image, it is proper to love them. We must realize that the precious dimension of their worth is a more authentic expression of their nature than the lower characteristics that developed through circumstances….” (Ibid)
Rav Kook concludes this very important and timely universal Torah teaching by emphasizing to us that: “Much effort is needed to broaden the love for people to the proper level, at which it will pervade life to its fullest depth….The highest level of love for people is the love due the individual person; it must embrace every single individual, regardless of differences in views on religion, or differences of race or climate.
It is essential to understand the mentalities of different nations and groupings, to study their characteristics and life-styles in order to know how to base our human love on foundations that will readily translate themselves into action.
It is only a person rich in love for people and a love for each individual person who can reach the love for their own nation in its noblest dimension, spiritually and practically. The narrow mindedness that leads one to view whatever is outside their particular nation, including whatever is outside the boundary of the nation of Israel, as ugly and defiling is a phase of the frightful darkness that totally undermines every effort to reach that state of spiritual development whose dawn is awaited by every sensitive spirit….
The objective of the entire Torah-its moral teachings, commandments, good deeds and studies- is to remove the roadblocks so that universal love will spread and extend to all realms of life…
Thus the world will be ruled by ‘righteousness and nations by equity’ (Psalms 98:9).” (Ibid)
BeMhera BeYamenu-Immediately In Our Days
-Hebrew text for Midot HaRaya: –https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%93%D7%95%D7%AA_%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%99%22%D7%94