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Love, Love Love?

Our generation does not like to hate. It is doubtful that there is less hatred between nations, sectors, or individuals in today’s world. But as a declaration – we want love exclusively. Feelings of hatred are considered negative and shameful, or as a distortion that requires treatment.

At first look, this is an erroneous approach. After all, love of the good and hatred of the evil are interconnected – “Hate evil and love good.”[1] The Tanya explains that the measure of a true tzaddik is his hatred of evil. The demarcation between good and evil determines borders. Hatred of evil creates the power to reject it and to defend oneself from it. An approach that blurs borders, professing strictly love and openness toward everyone and everything creates most of the aberrations unique to our generation: the obfuscation of truth, ethical and practical lapse in relation to enemies and legitimization of most negative drives.

This being said, the love approach is part of the process of drawing near to the redemption and it has a major messianic spark. Love and hate have opposite emotional charges: Love is positive energy, while hatred is negative energy. The basic emotion in the heart should be love – a charge of good, positive, and constructive emotion. Hatred is inherently negative and even when we are forced to employ it, we need to be extremely careful not to adopt it as a permanent attribute. (Generally, our “justified-rationalized” hatreds include a dimension of baseless hatred, which must be transformed into love by means of contemplation, a good eye, and compassion – as explained in chapter 32 of Tanya).

We turn to hatred because there is evil in the world, but our aspiration is not to intensify the evil, but rather to nullify the reality of evil so that we will no longer need hatred. This is the messianic destiny of “And the spirit of impurity I will take out of the Land”[2] – the slaughter of the evil inclination that will nullify the need for hatred. Then, we will be able to see with eyes of flesh that God created everything for His honor.

The Zohar describes the energy that transforms the world into a better place as ithapcha (transformation), unique to tzaddikim (“And Your Nation are all tzaddikim”[3]). Tzaddikim transform darkness into light and bitterness into sweetness. There is, however, another dimension of transformation: The transformation of hatred to love.

These three dimensions of transformation are a process of past-present-future, actualized in the three holidays of pilgrimage (the times of joy transform the regular days into holy days). On the holiday of Passover we transform the darkness to light – the exodus from Egypt, our historic foundation, is the exodus from darkness to a great light (when the light is turned on and we identify the good concealed in the dark past). On Shavuot we transform bitterness to sweetness – the counsel of the Torah, sweeter than honey, sweetens the bitterness of reality and heals its afflictions in the present. On Sukkot, God blankets us in a sukkah of peace, and the joy bursts through all boundaries, making it possible for us to transform all hatred into love – within our nation (when all Jews are worthy to sit in one sukkah) and in relation to the nations of the world, for whom we sacrifice seventy cows on Sukkot. Sukkot is the festival of the future, when all the nations of the world will ascend to the House of God.

After the nullification of evil, when the darkness will have turned to light and the bitterness to sweetness, we will be able to transform all the weight of hatred into the potency of love.

 

 

[1] Amos 5:15.

[2] Zachariah 13:2.

[3] Isaiah 60:21.

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