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“You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” (19:17)
One of the most difficult emotions to deal with is resentment.
Resentment can come from many different sources. It can result from someone genuinely wronging us. Or we may feel wronged by someone even though an objective third party would say that we were being over-sensitive. Resentment can come from plain old jealousy of someone who is brighter than us, or seems to have an easier life, or is more successful. Or resentment can come for no good reason at all. It may result from the way that someone speaks or dresses or expresses himself.
The spiritual masters teach that this is the worst kind of hatred. In Hebrew it is called “sinat chinam”, literally translated as “free hate”. Hate that has comes from no injustice, real or perceived, but is just the way someone feels.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart.”
In this week’s portion the Torah categorically prohibits that gnawing worm called resentment.
The Torah says that we mustn’t feel resentment. But isn’t that more easily said than done? How are we supposed to put this into action?
First of all, we cannot work on our feelings until we understand them. This requires objectivity and the help of someone who is impartial to help us objectivize our emotions. Only when we can delineate our feelings will we have a chance of changing them.
If this analysis shows that we have been genuinely wronged, the proper mode of conduct will depend on the circumstances. It may involve a direct confrontation, or a rebuke from a third party, or legal recourse in a Beit Din religious court. When we act to deal positively with our resentment in one of these ways, the poison of the resentment is very often vitiated or extinguished.
However, there may be circumstances where a genuine grievance has no outside recourse, and we may just have to forgive and forget. In this last scenario, (and in the others too) we should remember that it is G-d who runs the world, and we should analyze why G-d has put us in our present situation.
As far as jealousy is concerned, we should remember that each of us is on our own separate “monorail” in life. The fact that someone else has something that I don’t have, be it brains or money or looks, in no way means that they are taking away from me. The root of jealousy is a lack of trust in G-d’s Providence. Each of us is born with unique capabilities with which to fulfill our potential in this world. If G-dhasn’t given me something, it’s because I don’t need it to complete my mission on this earth.
And as far as sinat chinam is concerned, we should remind ourselves, that we are all created in G-d’s image. If there is something that I hate about my fellow for no objective reason whatsoever, it means that I am despising the image of G-d.
However, if we look carefully with a positive eye at those whom we resent and try to divorce our egos from our emotions, we might begin to see all kinds of positive traits that they possess.
It all depends on our I-sight.