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When hate is wrong but not a crime
A certain individual who lives with us in the community has deeply offended me and my parents on several occasions and continues to do so periodically when we see each other. He has made very demeaning comments and gestures towards me and my parents, at times even in public in front of other people. I will not go into all the details but let’s just say this is not us being too sensitive but is a clear offense on any grounds, and even legally we could technically bring harassment claims against him for what he has done. It is clear that he hates me and my family for some reason. I have confronted him about it but he simply ignored my messages and refuses to explain why he does so and certainly has never apologized. My question is as follows: I know there is a prohibition against hating a fellow Jew in your heart, but I naturally have hate towards this man. What am I supposed to do. Do I really transgress hating a fellow Jew? It’s really beyond my control after everything this man has done and is doing.
From the letter of the law, in your specific scenario, you do not transgress the prohibition against hating another Jew, being that he has actively done things to offend you, and refuses to ask forgiveness even after being confronted about it. Nonetheless, according to the teachings of Chassidus, there is no room to hate a fellow Jew even in such a case, and hence you should try everything in your power, and contemplate different mental exercises and perspectives recorded in Chazal and the Chassidic teachings to try to dissipate the hate as much as possible [i.e. Nelavin Vieinom Olvin; Tanya end of Chapter 12; Igeres Hateshuva, Igeres Hakodesh, Derech Mitzvosecha etc] and attempt to stretch a hand towards peace with the individual whenever the opportunity arises, and hence give chance for one day the person to turn around and make amends.
There is a very severe Torah prohibition against hating a fellow Jew in one’s heart. This prohibition is listed as one of the 365 negative commands. Now, God does not demand the impossible from his creations, and is aware that there are scenarios in which one naturally bores hate to an individual due to the things that individual has done to him. Hence, there are cases in which the Poskim agree that the Torah does not prohibit the hate [even though it may not be recommended from a piety perspective]. In other words, the Torah limits the reasons for why one may hate an individual, and while in some cases it is allowed in other cases it is prohibited.
The law is as follows:
If the person has done anything wrong to you at all, and you simply can’t stand his personality, or are jealous of his success and things that he has that you don’t [which is a major cause of hate in many people], then there is no justification for hating him, and he has nothing to apologize for. In such a case, hating the individual would transgress a Biblical command, and is the most raw definition of Sinas Chinam which is responsible for the destruction of the temple. In such a case, you must work on yourself to rid your heart of any such hateful feelings.
If the person has caused you bodily injury or pain then you have the right to hate him in your heart until he asks for forgiveness.
Likewise, if the person has actively offended you, and it’s not just you being too sensitive, then you have the right to hate him in your heart until he asks for forgiveness.
If the person caused you a monetary loss, then it is debated in the Poskim as to whether hating the individual is allowed in such a case, and the implication of the Alter Rebbe is that hatred in such a case is forbidden. Either way, you must first confront the individual about the monetary loss and give him a chance to make amends, as explained next
In all the above cases, you have an obligation to confront the individual for what he did, and give him the chance to apologize and make amends. Certainly, if there’s a way of reinterpreting the offense in a manner that was not intended against you, you have the obligation to confront him and see if he even was aware of the offense at all, and hence give peace a chance. Without confronting the individual for what you feel offended by, you don’t reserve the right to hate him in your heart. Accordingly, one who feels hurt by the words or actions of another individual has the obligation of doing whatever he can to bring the matter to a peaceful solution, and not carry a grudge for the rest of his life. This can be accomplished by one judging the other person favorably, and telling oneself different arguments that can help him forgive the individual and put the matter to rest in his heart so he can continue with a friendly and cordial relationship with him. If, however, one is unable to emotionally forgive him and still carries hard feelings in his heart, then Halacha dictates that he must approach that individual and confront him about the issue in a kind and peaceful manner that will hopefully bring appeasement and good resolution on both sides. The Rishonim and Poskim derive this law from an explicit verse in Scripture which states, “do not hate your friend in your heart, chastise your friend,” which can be interpreted to mean that if one feels offended by another do not hold the hatred in your heart and rather bring it up to him so he can acknowledge it and apologize.
Now, if you have exercised all your obligations as you claim to have done in your case, in which the person both offended you and your family and has been confronted and refuses to apologize, then the natural feelings of hate you have towards him are not forbidden. However, as we stated above, the Hasidic teachings completely negate all and any forms of hate towards a Jew, and hence you should do all in your power to diminish it and mitigate it, even though this is much easier said than done.
Even in the above case in which the hatred is not forbidden, you would still retain an obligation to make attempts for peace whenever viable, and it is not a lifelong allowance to hate.
Sources: See regarding the prohibition to hate a Jew in one’s heart: Michaber C.M. 272:11; Admur Hilchos Ovrei Derachim 9; Pesachim 113b; See regarding if one may hate an individual who caused one bodily damage or offense: Admur C.M. Hilchos Ovrei Derachim Halacha 10 “Or his friend sinned against him and caused him a pain of the body in which case he is not required to remove the hatred from his heart and forgive him until he asks for forgiveness”; Admur O.C. 156:3 [implies allowance is only for Torah scholar]; 608:4; M”A O.C. 156:2; Yuma 23a; P”M O.C. 156 A”A 2; Imrei Yaakov Biurim on Admur C.M. ibid in great length See regarding if one may hate an individual who caused one monetary loss: P”M O.C. 156 A”A 2 [Yes, if done for no reason]; Admur C.M. Hilchos Ovrei Derachim Halacha 10 and Imrei Yaakov Biurim on Admur C.M. ibid in great length [No]; See Shut Maharshag 2:53 See regarding the obligation to approach the individual if he did something hurtful to you, and you are unable to put it to rest and forgive them: Admur 156:6 “When a person was wronged by another, he is not to remain silent and hold it in his heart and hate him, but rather it is a Mitzvah to confront him and tell him “Why did you do to me such and such,” as the verse states Hocheiach Tochiach Es Amisecha. Nevertheless, if one chooses to forgive the aggressor and not confront him, then this is an act of piety, as the Torah was only particular regarding the hatred.”; Rambam Deios 6:6; Sefer Hamitzvos Assai 205; Sefer Hamaspik Leovdei Hashem [authored by Rav Avraham, son of Rambam] chapter 6 that through confronting ones friend one can banish the hard feeling from his heart; Ramban and Rashbam on Vayikra 19:17 that you need to confront him so he has a chance to apologize and be forgiven; Erechin 16b; Tana Divei Eliyahu Rava 18; Kedoshim 19:17; Likkutei Sichos Vol. 28 p. 169 [lashon Hakodesh edition] See regarding expressing one’s claims against the individual in a gentle and peaceful manner: Admur 156:8; Rambam Deios 6:7 See regarding the prohibition to hold onto a dispute and to do everything possible to try to bring it to an end: Rav and Resih Lakish in Sanhedrin 110a based on Bamidbar 17:5; Smag 157 [Biblical-Possibly listed as Mitzvah 157]; Rambam and Ramban Sefer Hamitzvos Shoresh 8 [Rabbinical]; Marganisa Tava on Sefer Hamitzvos Shoresh 8; M”B 156:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 156:13