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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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And Hate the Sinner Too

Forgetting how to hate can be just as damaging as forgetting how to love.
Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

This is insane.

The individual who, motivated by irrational hatred, chooses to murder innocent victims is irretrievably wicked, has cast off the image of God from his countenance, has irreversibly compromised his humanity and has forfeited his place in the global human community. Of the terrorists who bombed innocent runners in Boston I say we have an obligation to destroy them before they destroy us.

Amid my deep respect for the Christian faith, I state unequivocally that to love the terrorist who bombs a marathon or the white supremacist who drags a black man three miles behind a car, is not just stupid, it is deeply sinful. To love evil is itself evil and constitutes a passive form of complicity.

The Talmud certainly teaches that the object of hatred should be the sin, not the sinner, whose life must be respected and whose repentance effected. The Bible teaches that it is forbidden to rejoice at the downfall of even those sinners whom it is proper to hate: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth.” However, this attitude does not apply to impenitent and inveterate monsters who pay no heed to correction. For us to extend forgiveness and compassion to them in the name of religion is not just insidious, it is a mockery of God who has mercy for all yet demands justice for the innocent. To show kindness to the murderer is to violate the victim yet again.

I am waiting for an American political leader of either party, in the wake of a tragedy like Boston, to stand up and say, “America hates terrorists and will pursue them to the corners of the globe to purge them from the earth.” President Obama’s comments, by contrast, that “We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” could have been said about someone who painted graffiti on a subway. It just isn’t strong enough.

Yes, I know the old Bob Dylan song, that if we take an eye for an eye we’ll just end up blind. But hating evil is not revenge but rather about upholding the infinite value of life and preserving justice.

The immorality and stupidity of pacifism is something that even brilliant men can get wrong, most notably Albert Einstein. “I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist.” He believed that the moral nations of the world should disarm, that is until Hitler started putting children in gas chambers. It was then that he alerted President Roosevelt, in August of 1939, to the imperative of the United States getting an atomic bomb before Germany.

Let us never forget the immortal words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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3 Responses to “And Hate the Sinner Too”

  1. Anonymous says:

    A wonderfully honest and intelligent light shone on the suicidal reality of relativism and denial. Thank you Rabbi.

  2. Cathy Dodds says:

    I thank you for such wonderful insight.

  3. Gil Gilman says:

    In regards to Einstein we have to wish to live at peace coupled with the idea that evil people aren't all that bad, so that if we turn the other cheek about twenty or so times, they will get the message. What changed was that he recognized that if his dream of nonviolence were enacted, this would be provocation for all the little Hitlers, Himmlers, Stalins, Amins and what have you, to mak us all little puppets whose strings would be pulled by all their minions, that is those of us still alive. We have found that living in peace means thumping the evil doers until they find some remote part of the universe to flee to, or die.

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