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Thought for the Day: Ahavas Yisrael and Kirvas HaShem

Sefer Chafeitz Chaim prefaces hilchos lashon hara with a list of all the positive and negative commandments that are or could be transgressed by speaking lashon hara; collateral damage, as it were.  Negative commandments 8 and 9 (grouped in one section) is revenge and holding a grudge.  Holding a grudge he describes as "n'tira b'leiv" -- even feeling slighted (with no outward action) is considered a transgression of the issur d'oraisa of n'tira.  In the B'er Maiyim Chaim he justifies that concept based on the Sefer haChinuch, Rambam, and others.

Yikes.

Perhaps it is worth spending some time understanding how the Torah can assur even feeling slighted and wanting to get even without acting on those feelings at all.  The first thing of note is that the issur against holding a grudge is not where I expected it.  I expected to find it in parshas Mishpatim.  In reality, the issur is not even in sefer Shmos; it is in Vayikra in, of all places, K'doshim T'hiyu -- you shall be holy.  The context is also strange.  It starts with very human laws concerning gossip, hatred, and revenge; then it suddenly jumps to chukim (laws with no rational basis, such as kashrus and sha'atnez) and ends with korbanos.  Eh?

Here is my thought on the matter.  I would have thought that religiosity begins with the Temple service and praying to G-d.  Then comes kashrus, sha'atnez, etc.  Then I, if I want extra credit, I can start reproving other.  Eventually I might get to gossip and loving other people.

Here is the Torah's thought on the matter.  You want to be close to G-d?  Start by being scrupulous in your legal dealings with others.  Then be very careful about speaking negative about another Jew.  Do not harbor any ill feelings toward another Jew; G-d knows what you are thinking, so be very nervous about this one.  Now you can start constructive criticism, but do it out of love and with no feeling of justifying your own actions; again, G-d is watching.  Now you can begin loving every Jew as you love yourself; obviously this includes never taking revenge or even holding a grudge (do you hold grudges against your children, for example?!?).  Now you are ready to start keeping the ordinances and statutes of the King.  You are probably reeling about your past bad actions; no worries, you can be forgiven -- that's why the Torah gave us korbanos.

That's just reading Vayikra 19:11-22 in order.  That's how you become a kadosh.  Being close to HaShem is the goal; loving each and every Jew is the means.

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