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“The Virtue of Hate”

Soloveichik, Meir | First Things, February 2003 (see below for link)


pp. 41 - 46

Solokeichik states that if Christians identify with “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” Jews identify with Samson, who prayed to God to be avenged on the Philistines, and killed more of them in his death by pulling down the temple than he had in his life. P. 42: “Hebrew prophets not only hated their enemies, but also reveled in their suffering, finding in it a fitting justice. Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord. Deborah reveled in Jael’s slaying of Sisera in every bloody detail. Queen Esther wanted the already dead ten sons of Haman hanged on gallows because the proper Jew wants not only the death of enemies, but also their disgrace.” And Soloveichik likes all this. “Hate can be virtuous when dealing with the frightfully wicked. Rather than forgive, we can wish ill.; rather than hope for repentance, we can instead hope that our enemies experience the wrath of God.” Jesus knew as much: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you . . . .’ Here Jesus was wrong. God doesn’t love enemies. God hates them too. He wants their name erased as much as we do.” P. 43: At Sinai, God first asked the Israelites whether they were willing to abide by his code. This is a key. God leaves it up to us whether we will behave well and be saved. Christians think that God acts on our behalf without our consent and even without our knowledge. Jews think that God established a covenant only by the free consent of his people. Generally, God gives everybody an opportunity to make a good life, and then judges them on the basis of whether they have. Jews think they are in heaven because they deserve to be there. No Christian could ever think that way.