Friday, August 08, 2008

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Sinat Chinam and the Sages’ Intent

With the article Baruch P'tarani, we introduced a new contributor to Mystical Paths, Reb Dr. Moshe Newman. Reb Moshe is a doctor and chossid living and healing in Jerusalem. Here is is second contribution to Mystical Paths...

by Reb Dr. Moshe Newman at Mystical Paths

Thank you for your responses to “Baruch P’tarani”. If that article has helped you have more peace through an expanded consciousness, then I am grateful and humbled to be Hashem’s agent on behalf of my brothers and sisters. May we soon experience a world of peaceful people full of the love, joy, wonderment and gratitude that accompanies expanded consciousness.

The Bet HaMikdash embodies our ultimate intimate relationship with Hashem. Its destruction represents indescribable distancing from Hashem. In light of Tisha B’Av, I would like to discuss the prime cause of the destruction of the Second Temple, “sinat chinam.”

Please G-d, may we come to ever-deeper faith in You to the point where we experience peace, love, joy and gratitude no matter what happens to us. Then, surely You will rebuild Your Holy House. Amen!

Sinat chinam is usually translated as “causeless hatred”. Yet, a look at the grammar makes us question that translation. The word causeless is an adjective, describing the type of hatred. Which hatred? Causeless hatred. In correct Hebrew grammar—deekdook—causeless hatred should be sinah chinamah. The phrase sinat chinam is a feminine construct. Other familiar feminine constructs are ahavat Yisrael—the love of Israel; yirat shamayim—the fear of Heaven; etc. In Hebrew, feminine words generally end with the letter hey. When a feminine word is used in a construct, the hey becomes a tav. Constructs have the form “x of y” Thus sinat chinam means “hatred of” chinam. Very nice, but what does “hatred of causeless” mean?! Moreover, “causeless” as we said, is an adjective. In the construct form, the y is a noun. So, let’s see what happens if we look at the word chinam from the perspective of it being a noun.

The suffix mem affixed to a noun “x” means she’lahem—third person, masculine/general, plural, possessive. The x belonging to them. So, in a noun form, the word chinam would be short for chen she’lahem—the chen belonging to them. Chen, usually translated as grace or favor, can be understood as the glow of G-dLight emanating from something. So sinat chinam, in correct deekdook, means the hatred of the glow of G-dLight belonging to them.

Who is “them”? Let us say that “them” is anyone or anything about which one would say, “Hashem is not there.” So sinat chinam would be the hatred of the G-dLight emanating from “negative” things.

Example A: A stupid idea or an idea with which one vehemently disagrees.

If someone thinks of a stupid or contrary idea, is it not Hashem who ultimately placed that idea in the person’s head? Is Hashem not in that idea itself? Of course He is. Hashem surrounds and embodies everything.

Example B: A religion different than the one Hashem chose, i.e. the religion of the Torah. Did not Hashem place the thoughts in the hearts of the people who believe the way they do? Is not Hashem’s Light the very thing which gives existence to any thought or belief?

Example C: The Satan and Evil. Did not Hashem create those as well? They are the part of Hashem’s Creation which allows for free choice. Is it not Hashem’s Infinite Light at the foundation of their existence?

Example D: Physical or emotional pain (lo alenu). Did not Hashem create those sensations? Does not the existence of those sensations depend on their being made of G-dLight?

In other words, there is absolutely nothing devoid of Hashem in the entire universe.

The highest choice we can make is to live a paradoxical existence. We do that by fulfilling Hashem’s Will by acting according to the Torah in the aspect of “sur me’ra va’aseh tov—turn away from evil and do good, while always choosing to see and feel the Goodness of Hashem in everything—including the “negative” things. This is the aspect of serving Hashem “b’tov levav—with goodheartedness.” Choosing to see and love the glow of G-dLight in everything is the aspect of ahavat chinam—the love of their chen. When we love “their chen”—when we choose to see and love the aspect of Hashem even in the things that are from evil or from opposing opinions, we cause the transformation of darkness into Light. This is one of the main purposes of the world. Thus ahavat chinam builds the Bet HaMikdash. Sinat chinam, hating the G-dLight in the “negative” things, blocks the transformation of the darkness into Light and so, is the antithesis of Hashem’s Will. It causes the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash, r”l. May we be zoche to build the Bet HaMikdash with every moment of our lives!

Now, dear readers, the question should arise, “Then why do we translate the phrase as causeless hatred? The sages are the guardians of the transmission of the Oral Torah through the generations. The tradition to translate the phrase as “causeless hatred” is from them. Certainly, the sages know Hebrew grammar perfectly, so why this phrase and its translation?”

Stay tuned for Part 2. In the meantime, I bless you that, if G-d forbid we must fast (because the Geulah has not come before Tisha b'Av, Saturday night this year), it will be an easy, effective and meaningful one.

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