Sunday, December 23, 2007
[taking aim at God's enemies; metaphorically of course]
One accusation which is sometimes made about Orthodox Jews is that we are hateful and intolerant. I think there is some truth to this, however the question is: Is this a bad thing?
If someone loves one thing, he naturally hates the opposite. For example, if I love my father, I will hate anyone who attacks my father. If I love my country, I will hate anyone who attacks my country. If I love nature, I will hate corporate executives who are responsible for willfully destroying the environment for a quick profit. Seemingly, the only person truly without hatred is a person without love – someone completely indifferent.
Consider the example of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is certainly one of the most tolerant nations in the world. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Netherlands were more religiously tolerant than perhaps any other country at that time. Today, marijuana and prostitution are legal, as is euthanasia. This sounds idyllic in a way, however there may be a downside to it. During the German occupation of the Netherlands, about 75% of the Jews were killed, with the collaboration of the Dutch administrators and police. To some extent this was a result of Dutch freedom and pluralism.
Judaism demands an absolute love of God, as it states in Deut. 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. Similarly, Judaism teaches an absolute hatred of the enemies of God, as it states in Psalms 139:21-22 “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with utmost hatred; I count them mine enemies.”
Who are those who “hate God”? In Chofetz Chaim 8:5 they are defined as those people who deny the divine origin of the Pentateuch, the legal portion of the Talmud or any part of them. It must be noted however that Maimonides considered the Karaites to be legitimate Jews, in spite of their rejection of the Talmud, because they had lived since birth in this tradition and had been taught nothing else. Most secular Jews today therefore would not be considered enemies of God, if they were raised with no other beliefs.
In other words the enemies of God whom we must hate are those people who deliberately and willfully reject the validity of God's law or any part of it. They are traitors who are guilty of mutiny.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 6:23 PM