Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

In Pirke Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) Ch. 5:16, our Sages taught: All love that is linked to a condition and then the condition is removed, the love vanishes. If love is unqualified, then even when the condition is absent, the love prevails.

Many today speak of sinat chinom, senseless and futile hatred flowing through the streets of Israel against religious people, often triggered and fanned by the avowed anti-religious media. As an antidote, some have suggested adopting the late giant Rav Kook’s, zt’l, alternative, ahavat chinom, simply to love. However utopian and noble as it sounds, it is a built-in contradiction given the prevailing ambiance, each side blaming the other for the dilemma.


In truth, there is no senseless hatred, since most hatred has conditions attached to it. How does one love another who just stole his wife, dealt treacherously in business, or whatever, in the spirit of “stam love”? He doesn’t. How does a secular Jew in Israel love the haredi when, he argues, the haredi seems to violate his democratic and Zionist principles and poisons the social waters in the process? He doesn’t. And how can the haredi love those who continue violating principles of decency and morality, or who advocate a distorted relationship between God, country, and nation, just to accommodate those less fortunate seculars who still have not tasted the wonderful wellsprings of Torah? He doesn’t.

It all goes back to when Benjamin Netanyahu as head of the Likud won victory in 1996, the unabashed haters of everything “right” (read that believers in God, country and nevua[i]) were determined to provoke physical confrontations accordingly, as they still controlled Israel’s mostly liberal media. The next few years saw verbal onslaughts and stinging attacks by the Left throughout the world and especially in Israel against the Likud and their followers, many of them of the settlement movement. By comparison, it made any antagonism of the “right” and haredim against the seculars seem like kindergarten colloquy.

A small parking lot incident turns into an assault on the driver’s kippa. A traffic encounter between two women turns into a headdress bashing: an arrogant and absurd vilification and attack on the beliefs of the traffic offender rather than on the offense itself. The head-covered or bearded worshipper on the way to the synagogue, not necessarily dressed like a haredi, is the object of barbs and anti-religious babble, even though in no way does his worship infringe on the rights of the non-worshipper.

It seems that it is not only a paranoiac hatred that is leashed against the dati, sefardi, settlers, right, nationalist, or whoever does not fit the Torah antagonist’s pattern of “democracy in Israel” and concept of what Israel is all about, which threatens the Torah hater and therefore seeks to invalidate religious and prophetic reality. It is not even the real and exaggerated “inequities” he speaks of and “inconveniences” he must suffer because of religious coercion. It is not the huge sums of monies “extorted” by the religious that bothers him. And pouring salt on his Torah hating heart, he will argue, indignantly, is that his money ends up paying for food and basics for the religious’ large families, supporting “parasitic” yeshiva students, and providing for separate education and free loan grants to the religious needy.

Ironically, these large families are the greatest contribution the religious can give to Israel, which over the past decades has helped swell the country’s natural growth from 600,000 when the State was first established, to close to six million today. By contrast, the anti-haredi antagonist no longer needs Israel. He is uncomfortable among the religious and prefers the disco halls, bar rooms and the dope filled vice dens of Los Angles, London, Switzerland, Brooklyn, Bankok and India. But the anti-haredi antagonist will make sure to fly back to Israel just to vote against the “right” and religious “parasites” when Israeli elections roll around. In the final analysis, their empty cries for “democracy” and hatred of the haredi are only a camouflage for their hatred with reason, so far removed from the empty yearning for love without reason.

What they dare not admit, or perhaps are not aware of, is that it is not even the haredi they hate, nor the alleged religious “coercion” they are forced to suffer. It is not the “right”, or the land, peace or war that antagonizes their very being. It is not the monies the religious receive from the government for their institutions (which will never catch up to the original founders and their socialist agenda and moral corruption, who bled the government regularly to pay for today’s moral, religious and social degeneracy of the great Israeli society). And digging deeper, it is not even the large families they raise, and who eventually contribute to the changes in the election results.

The dramatic change from the many past Labor-led governments to the Likud and Jewish nationalist governments gave birth to the new Dybbuk in Israel: the passionately irreconcilable Torah hater. All the reasons in the world will not suffice to extinguish his hatred for the Torah person, contrasting sharply with God’s avowed love for his people, which “all the waters in the universe cannot extinguish” (Shir Hashirim Ch. 8:7).

It is the Rabbi Akiva phenomenon, who before becoming a baal teshuva, admitted he was full of hatred for a Torah person: The Gemara (Pes. 49b) tells us, Rabbi Akiva said, “When I was an am ha’aretz[ii], I pleaded, ‘Who will give me a talmid chacham to bite like a donkey?” So great was his hatred that when his talmidim suggested that he should say instead “to bite like a dog”, he corrected them, saying, ‘A donkey bites and also breaks the bone; a dog bite and does not break the bone’.”

This is the hatred of the am ha’aretz in Israel today towards the talmid chacham, which is really his hatred of Torah that the religious person chooses to live by and give his allegiance to. This is in contrast to the democratic idol of the Torah hater, the Supreme Court, which often makes rulings against the Torah. The Torah hater cannot believe that in the age of space travel and global networking, these relics of an ancient past still choose to follow a Torah life, especially in Israel. He will argue that the Torah should have long ago been buried in the European shtetels along with the sacred and honored Sephardic traditions that are no longer applicable in the modern, secular, democratic State of Israel. While he adores and respects practically every other “religion”, he will heap scorn and contempt on the Torah. Sadly, the Torah hater feels compelled to put down the one treasure that kept the Jewish people alive throughout the long exile and is still alive and growing in their beloved democratic Israel. And when the Torah hater’s own culture, dress, hedonism, and drunken power glares in sharp contrast to those who prefer magnanimity, morality and modest living and dress, his hatred of the Torah becomes even greater. Arrogantly, he will argue that he subscribes to these principles as well, but prefers to call it ethics, without the commitment enabling him to pick and choose as he sees fit. And the net result is that the hater ends up showing little ethics, morality, caring, sharing, appreciation or sensitivity towards his fellow Jew who believes in a Torah lifestyle, as this contradicts his secular lifestyle.

And when in defense of Torah, an editorial or two appears in an Orthodox publication rallying against those who refuse to believe in Torah, that Torah is vibrant and alive without labeling it Khoumeinism, he will deny and try to hide his secular despair in face of rising crime, violence, family abuse, immorality and murder, suicide, infidelity, perfidy and lawlessness and drug abuse rampant in the schools and streets of the non-Torah neighborhoods. Deep down, it is not religion the hater rallies against and tries to bury! It is his own bankruptcy and desperate loyalty to foreign cultures that he clings to. Deep down he knows that the old political and social ideas have long ago been proven as an ineffective defense against the evils of the modern democracy. To the hater it is far better to save the environment and whales than a child in Kiryat Shmona or Beer Sheva who chooses to follow the tradition of his parents and grandparents all the way back to our father Abraham. Even his “tolerance” of other religions and the respect he outwardly seems to project is motivated by fear of not being accepted among the goyim, and more so, his transparent attempt to make sure that Torah does not become exclusive once again in Israel. His own psychotic hatred is actually aimed against the entire Torah world, and not just in Israel. Sadly, at the opposite end of any Torah reality and or favorable argument, there you will always find that anti-Torah dybbuk, indeed the Leftist par excellence, struggling to stay alive.

Continued in Part II

[i] Jewish prophecy
[ii] Ignorant of Torah


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Rabbi Yehuda Schwartz discusses current issues on Eretz Yisrael from a Torah perspective gained from the many years drinking from the wellspring of the Great Gaon Harav Chaim Zimmerman, זצ"ל.