What makes this book so important?
Is Baseless Hatred Jewish?
It is important to recognize that a careful review of the literature on hatred does not show a specific entry called “baseless hatred”. This type of hatred is not recognized as a distinct entity in the English literature. It does however exist in the Jewish literature under the original Hebrew expression “Sinat Chinam”.
In Israel, today, the expression Sinat Chinam is well understood. Therefore, we must conclude that baseless hatred is a Jewish concept.
If Baseless Hatred is Jewish, what does it say about us?
If we, the Jews, have our own notion, or perhaps our own type of hatred, we should be able to answer the question:
What is the difference between general (or generic) hatred and this “Jewish” baseless hatred? In particular, does this difference imply that we, Jews, are capable of hating arbitrarily, or without any basis?
There is No Definition of Baseless Hatred: Why Not?
The Jewish literature does not provide a one sentence definition of Sinat Chinam that every Jewish person can comprehend. Two possible reasons:
(i) scientific experts state that they do not fully understand the basic human emotion of hatred;
(ii) understanding hatred requires a combination of psychology with recent advances in neurobiology.
Neurobiology teaches that hatred is a programmed emotion meant to help us avoid threats to our survival. It is associated with our primitive neural system (inner brain). This association explains three key characteristics of hatred:
(i) it is easily triggered;
(ii) it is not easily reversible;
(iii) it destroys the capacity of empathy. Empathy is the ability to experience the emotions of others. Empathy is one of the mind’s most advanced capacities; it is associated with the outer part of the brain (cortex).
Baseless Hatred Leads to Exile of the Jewish People because of the “Hatred-Exile Paradigm”
When hatred is allowed to take root, it creates a cascade of events:
- Hatred destroys the capacity of empathy;
- Without empathy, a Jew loses the capacity of Arevut;
- Arevut means that Jews relate to each other by taking responsibility one for another. In English, Arevut is called “mutual responsibility;”
- Arevut defines the most essential relationship between Jews and represents the core component of their peoplehood.
- When Arevut is lost, peoplehood is destroyed and the Jewish people is transformed into groups of individuals. When the Jews do not constitute one people, there is no need for a land and they lose the title to the Land of Israel.
The Hatred-Exile Paradigm can be reversed by the “Judah Principle”
A fundamental idea of this book is that the cascade of events of the “Hatred-Exile Paradigm” can be reversed by the “Judah Principle”.
When hatred spreads and endangers the Jewish people, the solution is to re-create Arevut.
This is learned from our forefather Judah who created the notion of mutual responsibility and changed the course of Jewish history.
This concept is called the “Judah Principle”. The Judah principle also explains the amazing success of the Zionist movement.
“Hatred-Exile Paradigm” and the State of Israel
The historical “Hatred-Exile Paradigm” and the creation of the State of Israel make it compelling to address these questions:
1. What happened to baseless hatred when the 1,878 years of exile ended in 1948?
2. What happened to baseless hatred in the last sixty-three years?
3. “Are Jews obsessed with rebuking one another?”
4. “Do Jews care too much or not enough for each other?”
5. “Is the Jewish people truly indivisible?”
The “Judah Principle” and the State of Israel
Arevut proposal: the time has come for Jews to combat baseless hatred using our own remedy: the Judah principle of Arevut. For Israel, Arevut is not just a moral imperative but also a survival strategy.
Another principle is that, among Jews, the micro-social cannot be distinguished from the macro-social. Therefore, in Israel, issues considered “private” automatically acquire a national dimension.
Therefore, the Arevut proposal includes a step-by-step approach to preventing new episodes of baseless hatred and repairing existing ones. The Arevut proposal focuses on eliminating discord within families: between siblings, between parents and children, and with in-laws; it addresses hatred in the workplace, among neighbors and friends, and within the broader societal circle. The book provides individual tools to create the emotional shift necessary to develop the advanced capacity of empathy among Jews.