Sunday, August 21, 2011

To Hate The Sin But Not The Sinner?

21 of the Fifth Month 5771

Since the release of Edition #325 of the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival, hosted at To Kiss A Mezuzah, I fallen into a bit of a discussion with the blog's owner, Susan Esther Barnes, one who identifies as a "Reform Jew."

I will not reveal the contents of private e-mails. However, you can begun by reading Susan's post "I Don't Hate The Person. I Just Hate Their Actions."

Then you can read my response below.

Susan and I appear to have radically different views on Judaism, among other things.

Yet, I thought I would give engaging in a dialogue with her a shot, especially since, so far, we seem to have been able "to disagree, without being disagreeable."

The concept used for the title of this piece is often associated with a non-Jewish philosophy, and does not quite fit in with Torah-observant thought and lifestyle.

But, it's catchy.


Hi, Susan, I'm glad you wrote this, as it continues the dialogue(?) we seem to have begun.

In a nutshell, I think that you made some good points, and that you and I have mostly have a disagreement on semantics.

I definitely disagree on how you applied your Torah sources, as they do not appear to be fleshed with the full understanding and clarification which HaZa"L provides us. But, of course,...I could be mistaken.

When you say נעשה ונשמע, please remember that this refers to both the Written and the Oral Torah.

It is interesting that I am highly critical of those who allow feelings to enter the determination of halakha. Yet, here I am, in a way, defending my feelings. Of course, I am not trying to use my feelings to support an halachic argument. I am simply stating what they are.

In a similar light to what you stated above, feelings are something I experience, but do not necessarily have to act on them.

Remember the silly cliche...
"Some of my best friends are...(fill in the blank)?"
Well, I actually do have friends who are not Torah observant. Either never have been, or were, and have some issue with God they need to work out. I love these friends. But I do hate their Shabbath desecration and their enjoyment of shell fish.

Perhaps that other cliche applies here, too:
The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
If I didn't care, then I wouldn't have such strong feelings (ie. hatred) about it.

But, I do care.

When I have non-Torah observant friends over for Shabbath dinner, without any expectation of "forced observance" on them, is that not compassion for my friends? My only requirement is that they let me know in advance what they do not or cannot eat

I do not allow any "live" electronics in the house, unless they belong to a soldier, security officer, paramedic, or on call medical professional. Not do I allow smoking in the house,... even during the rest of the week.

Is that not showing compassion, and tolerance?

Some might say it is a condescending and secret plot to brainwash other Jews into my way of thinking.

Well, it is!

Not exactly. It is not a secret plot. All of my friends know that I would love to see all Jews keep Torah and misswoth. But, they also know that I recognize that is not our current reality.

Building connections with Jews is important to me, but I do not have to like, nor tolerate Shabbath desecration or the eating of non-kosher food, etc., just as I do not have to like nor tolerate the despising of the Holy Land by some of those Jews who do keep Shabbath and kashruth.

Perhaps, hate is not the precise word to apply here, just the best choice I could think of at the time. I'm not sure. The word "frustrated" does not cut it for me.

Maybe it is not rational, but as one Human responded to a Vulcan, who was complaining about the irrationality of human emotions:
"Since when are human emotions supposed to be rational?"
Food for thought.

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