Ki Tetzei

“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives” Deuteronomy 21:10


Most of us are born with an ingrained trait of hatred. For me, it started off with marmite and has found more sophisticated victims since. Unless we attempt to rid ourselves of our natural venom, it will come back to haunt us, even if we think we have risen above it. We can often dupe ourselves into believing that we are fighting a good cause when in fact we are camouflaging the most vulgar, hibernating hostility.

Is hating bad? It largely depends. During our Friday night prayers, we praise the "lovers of God who hate evil". In practice though, it takes great discipline to attain the level of "kosher" hatred. Take the capture of the Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, in 1960 for instance. Some bragged about taking revenge on this ghastly butcher and eagerly awaited his trial and execution. The same could be said of some Americans' reaction to Osama Bin Laden's atrocities. I can completely understand this type of response as it is born of natural emotion.

However, Rabbi Yecheskel Levenstein (1895-1974) once said that there are two types of hatred. The first is fuelled by personal incentive, our desire to be victorious over the one we hate. The second is different and far more challenging - the Torah way. Judaism tells us not look at even the worst criminal with complete hatred, even when they have committed the most heinous brutalities. Rather, we are enjoined to care only about the implementation of justice, as far as humanity can safeguard it.

The emphasis is to hate and oppose evil, but not evil-doers. To enthusiastically seek the blood of a murderer is forbidden and we must not be joyous on his day of reckoning. Every person is created in the image of God and his or her wrongdoing is a personal tragedy.

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