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Haters Need Not Apply

11/01/2018 04:34:14 PM


Growing up in my parents' house, we didn’t have a ton of rules.  Not a lot that I can remember, for sure.  But I do remember two that stand out in ways that certainly at the time, made my eyes roll every time I’d hear my mom repeat them.  One was that not only were we not allowed to have toy guns, beebee guns or water guns, we weren’t even allowed to turn our fingers into guns and pretend-shoot.  I know, a little excessive.  But then there was the other rule – “Don’t say ‘hate.’”  “I don’t like him,” or “I don’t wish to be his friend,” or if absolutely necessary, “I really can’t stand him…” would pass the muster.  But, growing up in my parents’ house, “hate” was absolutely the worst 4-letter word. 

And certainly, hate is one of those words that is tough to define without using the word itself: as in “to share the properties or attributes of hatred.”  It’s kind of like one of those, “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck” things.  However, if it was one of two most important rules by which we were to abide in my parents’ home, not to mention it has come to define an entire volume of legal literature, I’d like to believe that there is more to it than that.  I particularly appreciate the second half of this Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “hate”: [part 1] “intense hostility and aversion [part 2] usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.”  It’s that “fear, anger and sense of injury” from which, I believe the core of hatred is found. 

Hate is an active and ongoing and engaging and self-fulfilling intensive dislike.  Hate is an energetic and all-consuming emotion that cannot be limited to the “official” object of its passionate distaste.  Full throttled hatred of anything is an act that gives its object far more perceived and symbolic power than anything that object could envision for itself.  Hate is like an ever multiplying heat whose potential explosive power is stoked more intensively the longer it sits and festers and stirs in dark and windowless spaces.  Its most potent fuel?  The perception that were it not for a particular person or a particular kind of people, the hater would not be so injured. 

We Jews are the “perfect” object of that hate.  Not at all because we deserve it but because we don’t suffer fools or foolishness well.  For Jews, there will just never be anything that beats God.  I don’t mean that all Jews affirm a clear and consistent understanding about God, or that all Jews affirm some semblance of God, or even that all versions of Jewish life are in theological unison.  Not at all.  What I mean is that to be a Jew is to demand the core values established by God, (whether one believes in God or not):

  • The infinite value of each human as a unique and sacred representation of Divinity.
  • The sacred understanding that, whether or not we believe we humans are ruining our earth, we are most certainly not tilling and tending it in ways that keep it pristine.
  • The recognition that there will always be the need to maintain a precarious balance between the privacy of the individual and the greater good of people in society.
  • The constancy of the still small voice in every human being that desires and deserves  to be spoken, sung, expressed and affirmed. 

These principles of Jewish values will never align well with people who seek to consolidate power for their own sake.  And thus religions, monarchies and extreme ideologies do not appreciate “the Jew.”  Our very nature claims that unless those who are in charge allow for the fullest expression of the above 4 values, we simply cannot abide them.   Of course, this is not the be all and end all of Jewish values, but what they all have in common is the insistence that this world and the heterogeneity it exudes is purposeful.  It is not by accident and it is not for mounting superiorities that we all come in so many colors and shades and types and uniquenesses; it is not by accident that the earth is both stunningly beautiful as well as tragically fragile; it is not by accident that we are, by nature, creative and creator beings. 

We Jews have not cornered the market on truth but it is our mandate to protect the true origins of humanity – that each of us is endowed by our creator with unalienable rights.  None of us is other, none of is stranger, not in our cores, not at our essence.  And the Jewish people stands for this understanding more than anything else.  Please believe me.  This is what drives Judaism and a Jewish way of life.  May our haters discover that they too are included in those with unalienable rights and may we Jews never forget that this is why we are here.



Sun, December 15 2019 17 Kislev 5780