Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sinas Chinom - Hatred that yields nothing

The following excerpt is from the Ohr Someach website

based on a lecture by Rabbi Yochanan Zweig

To answer these questions, we need to understand what is meant by the term "Sinas Chinom." Our Sages tell us that it is Sinas Chinom that destroyed Jerusalem, and it is Sinas Chinom which keeps us mired in exile until this very day. Sinas Chinom is sometimes translated as "baseless hatred" - hatred for no reason. When there is love and caring among Jews, Hashem acts with us in a way that shows love and care. But when we act with anger and spite, harboring animosity, it's as though we're inviting Hashem to do the same.

But let's stop and think: What sane individual hates someone for no reason? A petty reason, an invalid reason, perhaps. Bob steps on Steve's toe, so Steve hates Bob. But hatred with absolutely no reason whatsoever? Let us therefore take a different approach to understand the concept of Sinas Chinom.

The following parable characterizes Sinas Chinom: A king told a person, "Ask for anything you desire and I'll give it to you, and to your enemy I'll give double." After thinking a while he said, "O, King, poke out one of my eyes."

Anyone doubting that such people actually exist, consider the following true account: There were two brothers whose old mother died, leaving a $100,000 inheritance entirely to the younger brother. The older brother was enraged, certain than in the last year of her life his brother had convinced their mother to cut him out of the will.

"I'm going to contest the will," he told his rabbi. "I'll see to it that my brother doesn't get a penny!"

"Did you ask lawyers how much it'll cost to contest the will?" asked the Rabbi.

"Of course," answered the man. "It's going to cost $200,000, but I don't care. It's worth it for me to lose a fortune as long as my brother gets nothing!"

How is it that a person is willing to spend thousands of dollars, in order to gain nothing? Why doesn't he go out and buy presents for his friends and family, or better yet - himself?

The answer is: Sinas Chinom. Of course he'd be better off spending the money on himself. But he cannot. Why? Sinas Chinom: "Free Hatred." Though the hatred may have some basis, it is "free" in the sense that it yields nothing. It is free of logic, free of profit. On the contrary, he will poke out his own eye or spend a fortune - even destroy himself - to satisfy his hatred. Ultimately, Sinas Chinom is self-hatred.

1 comment :

  1. Both R' Chatzkel and the Netziv have a different take on sinas chinam. However, as usual, I appreciate Rav Zweig's pshat based approach (not to say the others, c"v, are not pshat).


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