Friday, November 25, 2016

The Power Of Love

We know that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam - baseless hatred [not only did they hate - but they didn't go to the "Beis" - as the gemara in Shabbos says that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of bittul Torah].

Every spiritual ROOT has no right, left of middle. Roots don't have a broad landscape but are merely one narrow point of departure from which everything emanates. 

Love and hatred are root, core, character traits. All good emanates from LOVE while all bad emanates from HATRED. There is no middle ground. The Nazis acted out of hatred and so did all of their collaborators. Those who remained silent were apathetic. From where did this apathy come? From a deeply rooted hatred. 

Let us consider Franklin D. Roosevelt who was President of the United States during the Holocaust.

Born to Protestant wealth and privilege, the Roosevelts were hardly immune to the prejudices of their time. Before entering the White House, Eleanor described the future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter as “an interesting little man but very Jew” and, after attending a function for the Wall Street financier Bernard Baruch, complained: “The Jew party was appalling. I never wish to hear money, jewels and sables mentioned again.” Franklin went even further, using anti-­Semitic banter to charm world leaders like Joseph Stalin who were known to fear and hate Jews.....

For Roosevelt, the most controversial scholarship concerns a troubling moral question: What, exactly, did he do in his 12 years in office to protect the Jews of Europe from Nazi genocide? And the answer, many now believe, is: Not nearly enough.

Starting in the 1960s, a flood of books appeared with self-evident titles like “No Haven for the Oppressed” and “While Six Million Died.” But the most influential account by far was David S. Wyman’s “Abandonment of the Jews,” published in 1984. Wyman, the grandson of two Protestant ministers, considered numerous parties responsible for America’s tepid response to the Holocaust, including a badly divided Jewish community, a nest of virulent anti-Semites in the State Department, and a distracted president largely indifferent to humanitarian concerns he felt were beyond his control, no matter how enormous the scope. [From the New York Times. How much he hated us and how much he could have done is argued by historians and doesn't concern us here].

The root of his apathy was hatred. This hatred was expressed in a paralysis with regarding to taking action to helping Jews [both by relaxing immigration policies, and by bombing the train tracks that led to Aushwitz that would have blunted Hitler's killing machine etc. etc.]. 

Incidentally, he wasn't the only American President who didn't intervene to save innocent people.

Woodrow Wilson, a true idealist, virtually ignored Turkey’s slaughter of a million or more Armenians, while Jimmy Carter, a human rights crusader, did nothing to prevent Pol Pot from exterminating 20 percent of Cambodia’s population. The Clinton administration took several years to respond militarily to the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in Bosnia, which required only air power, not soldiers on the ground, and it never confronted the mass killings in Rwanda. More recently, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama employed little more than words to condemn the atrocities in Darfur. [From the Times]

The root of this terribly disturbing apathy and indifference was hatred. Had these Presidents been filled with love, they would have intervened and saved lives. But so is politics and politicians.  

The Jews said [Dvarim 1/27] that Hashem took us out of Egypt because He hates us. Why would they say something so absurdly false? He performed miracle after miracle on our behalf because he hates us???


The answer is - they they hated Hashem [see Rashi there]. If we would have loved Hashem we never would have projected our hatred upon him. On the contrary, we would have felt His unending, eternal love. 

When I hear about someone in need or in pain and I don't care, the root is hatred. How would I feel if it were my own child רח"ל?? The expression of this hatred may be passive and apathetic but the root source is hatred. All one has to do is change this feeling to one of love and the whole picture changes. I will then do everything in my power to help.

Think of the day of a tzadik. All day long, some tzadikim receive people and try to help them in any way. If they need an ear then they give them a listening ear [a 250-plus dollar value as those who go to mental health professionals know], they offer words of comfort, take part of the burden of pain upon themselves thus lightening the burden of the other, give advice when called for, daven, shower brachos, give them references if they need a shidduch or a job etc. etc. Tzadikim do this for decades, completely free of charge. Why would they take up their valuable time for this when they could be doing other, more pleasurable and interesting things? 

Because they are tzadikim who are filled with love.

We may not be on that level but we know what to strive for. When we hear the cry of the oppressed and downtrodden, we should feel it and be there for them. If we have the financial means to help we must. Not with resentment, as many people feel when they give, but out of love. When a man buys his dedicated and doting wife a gold necklace after she gives birth to their seventh child, does he give it with resentment? No, of course not. He is so thankful that she spends day and night taking care of these children - after 9 unpleasant months of pregnancy and childbirth which is anything but a walk in the park or a picnic [unless she gives birth while talking a walk in the park or having a picnic]. He wishes he could give her the whole world. Why?

Because he LOVES her. 

We should merit to love everybody. If we ALL do - the geula will come. If JUST YOU reach this level of love, the universal geula may not yet come because others aren't ready, but trust me - your own personal geula will begin and your life will be transformed forever to one of happiness, joy and meaning.

Try it. 

The nature of love is that it extends to everything and everybody. If you have this trait it will express itself in your dealings with all. Love is compared to fire [רשפיה רשפי אש שלהבתיה] - just as fire spreads, so does love. 

[Adapted from רזי לי page 42 from הגרי"מ חרל"פ זצ"ל]