“Hatred was at the core of the Holocaust and all its methods of annihilation. Yet in the wake of the Holocaust, hatred did not become a significant animus for the Jewish people. Every generation must evaluate the meaning of the Holocaust within the continuum of Jewish history. Rene Levy’s book, which deals systematically with the phenomenon of hatred – and specifically with baseless hatred – presents a gripping challenge: what are the ways and means for dealing with the dynamics of disputes and divisiveness, particularly expressions of baseless hatred, within the Jewish people? This is an opening for a vital discussion for all of us.”
Chairman, Yad Vashem Directorate; Brigadier General, IDF
“Rene Levy’s book Baseless Hatred attempts to pinpoint the fundamental source of evil and find ways to reduce it.… Levy analyzes the Jewish people as a whole, focusing with surgical precision on the State of Israel. Delving deep into various sources, historiosophy, theology, and the Zionist endeavor, this work presents an analysis of hatred among the people of Israel, including that which led to 1,878 years of exile. This book will find its place in the libraries of readers at the highest level. With its direct relevance to current events, Baseless Hatred will serve as a springboard for vital public discussions.”
Professor Shevah Weiss,
former Speaker of the Knesset; former Chairman, Yad Vashem Council
“Hatred is a harsh sentiment that defies exact definition, and yet it is encountered by all of us at some point in our lives. Baseless hatred is identified by Jewish tradition as the cause for the destruction of the Second Temple, and thus as emblematic for the substantial personal and collective harm that has ensued. In its most extreme form, this kind of hate aims to exterminate one’s fellow man. Even when it is not totally eradicated, baseless hatred can be channeled and restrained. Levy’s book is an effective jumping-off point for discussion of this important subject.”
Professor Dan Michman,
Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem; Chair, Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, Bar-Ilan University
“This book makes you a better person, and one that after employing the tools that are listed, will help usher in the 3rd Temple and the Moshiach (the Messiah). May we feast next year on Tisha B'Av!”
Radio Journalist, Israel National Radio
Another Take on Baseless Hatred
Article in Mishpacha - Jonathan Rosenblum column 08/04/2011
As we contemplate our role in rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash during this period of mourning for its loss, we each have to come to grips with sinas chinam
(literally, free hatred), which Chazal identify as the cause of that
destruction. Most frequently, the term is described as “baseless hatred,”
which has always left me somewhat puzzled, because very few people will ever
admit to hating someone for no reason at all. No doubt the host who hated Bar
Kamtza could have offered a long list of reasons justifying his
Rene Levy, a religious professor emeritus of neuropharmacology
at the University of Washington, offers another possible explanation in
Baseless Hatred: What It Is and What You Can Do About It (Gefen Publishing
House). In his description, sinas chinam is that part of the strong negative
feelings we might have about another Jew, however justified those feelings may
appear to us, that is excessive.
We hold our anger too long; we do not
take the steps recommended by the Torah to deal with our hatred, for instance,
by airing our grievance with the one who has angered us; we spread hatred
among Jews through our gossip about the object of our hatred; or we fail to
balance our anger towards a fellow Jew against the feeling of mutual
responsibility and closeness for our fellow Jews that is inherent in the
concept of areivus.
In short, the “free” element of our hatred is all
that is over and beyond that which can possibly be justified by anything done
to us. When reframed in that fashion, it should be a lot easier for most of us
to identify where our work lies in rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash.
Restoring Jews’ sense of responsibility toward one another
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — An important concept in this book is that of arevut, which teaches that the responsibility that one Jew feels for another is a building block for community. Author Levy reminds us that the biblical Joseph, when occupying a powerful position in Egypt, created a test for the brothers who once sold him into slavery and subsequently did not recognize him. After secreting a goblet into Benjamin’s bag, Joseph had Benjamin arrested and threatened to make him a slave. Their older brother, Judah, stepped forward, and in a display of arevut, told Joseph that his father Jacob’s heart would be broken if Benjamin were taken from him. Accordingly, Judah offered to substitute himself for Benjamin as Joseph’s slave. At that point, Joseph’s heart softened towards his brothers, and he revealed himself as their long-lost sibling.
Levy nicknames arevut “the Judah principle,” but it refers simply to one Jew looking out for another. Baseless hatred can undermine, perhaps even destroy, arevut. When we think we are being insulted, or undercut, or not given the appreciation we believe we deserve, sometimes our brains will react with the reflex emotion we call “hatred.” When we are battling real enemies, according to Levy, hatred might serve a good purpose. But when we allow our reflexes to make enemies out of people who are not our enemies–who in fact may be people with whom we have common destinies–then this is hatred that Judaism refers to as “baseless.” It tears at the fabric of the Jewish community. According to Talmudic sources, this was the kind of hatred that led to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.
In reciting several modern-day scenarios of people hating members of their family, or people within their social group, Levy tells of a primitive part of our brain controlling our actions, not just for the immediate moment but sometimes for a lifetime. The higher functioning, cognitive parts of our brains need to be engaged to consider the causes of this hatred and to find ways of reversing it. Hatred between Jews does not only affect the individuals, it adversely impacts the whole community. Sometimes people are so focused on their hatred for other individuals that they cannot or will not cooperate in actions for the common good.
Quoting such commentators as Daniel Gordis, Natan Sharansky, Caroline Glick, and Dennis Prager, Levy goes on to suggest that the forces of Islamism and Western European anti-Semitism are growing in strength, for a variety of reasons, and now perhaps more than ever, Jews have to practice arevut. With so many external enemies, Israel and Diaspora Jews must do whatever they can to improve their relations with other Jews, so as not to have both internal and external enemies. Levy recommends a variety of common sense approaches for healing oneself of hatred and repairing relationships with fellow Jews.
The author recalls that Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, believed that once Jews had a state of their own, anti-Semitism would disappear from the face of the earth. This has been proven untrue. Hatred of Jews is today often expressed as hatred of Israel.
Levy seems to believe that once Jews stop hating each other, they will be able to somehow defeat anti-Semitism, perhaps by providing the world with a new paradigm for human behavior. There is no basis for this belief in logic, only in faith, but it is nevertheless inspirational.
Baseless Hatred is a thought-provoking, helpful book from which everyone could draw benefit — particularly if they read it before reciting the Al Heits during the High Holidays. But it leaves one very important question unaddressed. If we should substitute reason and good will for emotion in dealing with fellow Jews, should we not do likewise in our relations with all of humanity?
Is this concept of arevut only to be practiced within the Jewish tent? I think otherwise. Call me Pollyannish, but I believe that we should try to extend good will to all, whether they worship as we do or not. If they be true enemies, they will surely reveal themselves as such. But if they are not enemies, for all of our sakes, let’s not imagine them to be so.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor, EMUNAH Magazine
Baseless Hatred: What It Is and What You Can Do About It.
By Rene H. Levy, PhD.
This important book seeks to explain the roots of modern hatred and offers tools to help empower us to overcome it. It discusses the world’s hatred of Jews, of Israel, and the baseless hatred of Jews to each other, in the Diaspora and in Israel.
Our exile from the Land of Israel was caused by baseless hatred and the author illustrates in intricate detail the connection between baseless hatred and exile (i.e. hatred of Joseph by his brothers sent them into exile). Hatred weakens a person and has weakened nations, Dr. Levy points out. Although Israel has achieved a State, the threat of another exile still looms as the world, after 60 years, is still discussing whether it has a right to exist.
Hatred among Jews is not a private matter, Dr. Levy writes. It has serious consequences for the entire body of the Jewish people. It destroys the national bond of mutual responsibility. He describes the unity of the people during its first three decades of the State of Israel, and how and why this unity has seriously unraveled during the last three decades.
A reason why interactions between Jews are unique may be based on
the “last Jew” syndrome. Throughout their history…they were taught
that the survival of the whole Jewish people depended on them. As a
result, each Jew tends to behave as if he or she must be capable of
guaranteeing the survival of the Jewish people, as if all other Jews
were nonexistent. When a Jew behaves as the last survivor, he or she
feels very strongly about his or her opinions and positions and may
The irrational hatred of the Muslims has nothing to do with territory, Dr. Levy notes. Iran, for example, has no designs on Israel’s territory. Instead, Israel has become a pawn in the long and bloody war between the Sunnis and the Shiites, each claiming to represent the “true” Islam. Whoever destroys Israel will then become the main Muslim power and so “prove” that Allah is on their side and that theirs is the “true” religion. The Muslim’s sense of inferiority has further stoked Jew-hatred as is demonstrated by attacks on Jews in England and France who are citizens of those countries and not of Israel.
Western European Jew-hatred, Dr. Levy writes, is not the old anti-Semitism. It is a new expression of Europe’s irritation, fatigue and boredom with guilt feelings for the Holocaust. If Europeans convince themselves that the victims of their inaction have themselves turned into aggressors, well, then, they can comfortably rationalize that perhaps the Jews deserved what they suffered.
Dr. Levy is neither an historian nor a rabbi, but rather a scientist. A Professor of
Pharmaceutics and Neuropharmacology, he was asked to provide an innovative, scientific approach to hatred in order to come to grips with this important subject. He has succeeded brilliantly in deepening our understanding and in offering solutions to meet this old/new challenge.
Editor, EMUNAH Magazine
REVIEW by Dr. Israel Drazin
There is no one who has not become angry. Some people are angry for only a short while; others never get over their anger, even when, as often happens, they forget why they became angry. Many people become angry when they should have realized that there is no basis for their feelings. What causes anger? Is it something helpful in our DNA that aided early men and women to survive? Does it have a psychological underpinning? Does hate have any value today? Why do we hate when there is no foundation for the hate? Can we learn how to stop being angry? Is there a difference between anger and hate? Is there a special Jewish attitude toward hatred and baseless hatred? What is it?
Dr. Levy addresses the entire subject of anger from scientific, human, and religious angles, in clear easily understandable language, in an interesting and informative manner, with fascinating case studies. He writes that hatred serves “useful functions, such as helping us avoid threats to our survival. For example, we understand the purpose of hate that allows us to recognize an enemy or to fight a war.” He enumerates and explains the cascade of triggers that produce normal, understandable hatred and irrational, baseless hatred. He introduces a subject that he calls “The Judah Principle,” based on the unusual plea of the patriarch Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Judah pleaded with the Vice-Pharaoh Joseph, his brother, who he did not recognize to release his brother Benjamin from slavery (a foreshadowing of Moses’ request of Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery). He examines the biblical episodes during the fetal period of the Jewish people, the fraternal hatred between Esau and Jacob and Joseph’s brothers against Joseph, Pharaoh against the Israelites, and what occurred in 1948 when the State of Israel was reestablished and the attitudes of people to the event. He looks at the “Palestinian Issue.” Is it a land dispute or Islamic hatred? He tells readers how to prevent baseless hatred.
Hate is often baseless. It is baseless when it is a response to an act triggered by groundless generalizations, positive or negative, and confused associations with causality – just because something happened after the now-hated person said or did something doesn’t necessarily mean that the person caused what occurred. Thus the hatred is often unfair, excessive, and avoidable, leading to a revengeful attitude toward the hated person that is not easily extinguished.
Focusing on Jews, Levy points out that Jewish tradition placed the blame for the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, and the subsequent close to 1900 years exile, on Jewish behavior, baseless hatred by one Jew for another. This baseless hatred made it impossible for the ancient Jews to unite to handle and resolve the situation with the Romans. Levy sees baseless hatred between Jews as a “contagious disease,” as a “hatred (that) destroys the cement that has kept the Jewish people united as a nation, even when it did not live on its land: that cement is called (in Hebrew) areivut, which means “mutual responsibility.” He points out that Jewish tradition characterizes the gravity of baseless hatred as “more serious than several other moral failures such as idolatry, (sexual) immorality, and bloodshed.”
People will leave the reading of Levy’s book feeling that they now understand a subject that they should to know about.
iddrazin | Nov 8, 2011
Dr. Israel Drazin is a noted Bible scholar, the author of eighteen books - including volumes on Bible commentary and philosophy - a retired United States Army Brigadier General, a Ph.D., a Rabbi, and a lawyer. His website is located is at: http://booksnthoughts.com
“ …Dr Levy is a professor at the University of Washington who recently authored a phenomenal and ground-breaking book called Baseless Hatred. Beyond being a very worthwhile read, the book delves into issues that are often overlooked in our history and offers compelling physiological as well as psychological explanations for baseless hatred and some remedies of how to overcome it…….”
Hillel Israel Ltd (CC)
Edgar M. Bronfman Hillel Israel Center
Joseph Meyerhoff Building
Hebrew University Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905
Histadrut Harabanit DeSeattle
Beit Din Tsedek Misodo Shel Hahistadrut Harabanim DeSeattle
Harav Shelomo Maimon S”T” Av Bet Din
This letter is to try to convey with short words the mastery of Dr Rene Levy (“H”, y) in presenting cures for Jewish spiritual illnesses. He has learned a great deal of the Rambam and he has learned to follow the example, clear the meaning of the title, classify it in an orderly manner, come to absolute conclusions. All of you listening to him will agree with me about his competence in lecturing.
Enjoy and be inspired.
Rabbi Solomon Maimon
Rabbinical Council of Seattle
5206 South Morgan Street
Seattle WA 98118
206 723 1983
Daniel Keren in The Jewish Connection
“Baseless Hatred” was published this year by Gefen Publishing House and it
offers a scientist's approach to one of the timeless Jewish Theological questions that have challenged mankind from since the time that Kayin (Cain) killed Hevel (Abel)
Professor Levy, professor emeritus and founder and chairman of the department of Pharmaceutics at the University of Washington has published hundreds of research articles on his specialty- neuropharmacology. Following a lecture on a scientific topic he was approached by a rabbi who asked him to prepare a lecture on the topic of "baseless hatred".
A challenge for the Professor
Expecting to find a host of resources on which to base his lecture, Professor Levy was surprised by the dearth of published material in the scientific community and thus was challenged to not only find material for his lecture, but to expand it into a book.
"Baseless Hatred" offers a scientist’s take on the question that has challenged Jews at least for the last two millenniums following the destruction of the Second Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Jerusalem that Chazal our Sages of blessed memory teach us that was caused by baseless hatred among Jews.
One section of Professor Levy's book deals with Israel and the Jews and includes chapters - The 1948 Question: Two Generations, The "Palestinian Issue": Land Dispute or Islamic Hatred? and Western Hostility: The New Antisemitism.
"Baseless Hatred: What it is and What You Can Do About It" can be found in bookstores or by calling the American office of Gefen by calling (800) 4775257 or emailing at email@example.com
Daniel Keren in The Jewish Connection
“It’s well worth reading this Jewish self-help book that
scientifically explains the phenomenon of hatred.…
The beauty of the book’s hypothesis…is
its insistence that by concentrating our efforts on our own families and circles of influence, we can make enormous gains against baseless hatred.”
Abigail Klein Leichman , Jerusalem Post
"Don’t read this book. Study it.”
Israeli Minister of Justice , Yaakov Neeman, in his address at the book launch in Jerusalem.
“Dr. Rene Levy is one of the most creative and intriguing
thinkers in the Jewish world today. His book tackles an
important issue that touches on the life of every Jew.”
Judy Balint , Journalist ,
Author of Jerusalem D iaries : In Tense T imes