The response I got from Face Book hit me like a punch in the stomach. I had joined about 26,000 other people in asking Face Book to take down the “I Hate Israel” page, as Face Book has a so-called “policy” that doesn’t permit hate speech, or attacks on individuals or groups based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, etc.
I thought the “I Hate Israel” easily fell squarely within those parameters. I thought Face Book took its policies seriously and so I thought it was a no-brainer. Isn’t an “I Hate…” page inherently hateful?
So when I got the e-mail reply from Face Book that my request was reviewed and it was determined that the page “didn’t violate it’s community’s standards”, I had to re-think the whole thing.
So who is Face Book? Is it like the Wizard of Oz – “The great and all powerful Face Book shall now answer your question.” Seriously – who made that judgment call and generated that reply? And just whose community are we talking about? Because any community whose sensibilities is not violated by an “I Hate Israel” page is not a community of mine.
The Need To Belong
Why do we, or why do we want to belong to community anyway? It’s a basic, innate and hard-wired need that we have, this need to belong, and to belong to something bigger than ourselves. According to Abraham Maslow, all humans have 5 needs but they are hierarchical. After the basic bottom needs of physiological survival and safety are met, the next human need is “love and belonging”.
Belonging feels safe and good emotionally. Practically, we couldn’t survive without sharing the resources, strengths and skills and others. And psychologically, belonging to a community can give us a sense of identity, direction, perspective and moral strength. So there’s nothing wrong with the need; rather, it’s how we go about satisfying it that matters. We have to be careful and conscious about what and to whom we attach ourselves.
Some communities inspire and promote individual growth and potential, while providing the means to serve something greater than us. Other communities are a mechanism to keep people mired in conformity and a mob mentality, serving the cause of hatred. In such communities, like the Face Book community, it is not a “community violation” to publically stand for “hate”. Other communities take it further and applaud and honor hatred as an ideal state of being.
Being Fully Human Is To Be Guided By Divinity
Hillel encapsulated the Torah with the famous phrase, “What is hateful to you, do not do to others; now go and learn”. Sadly, to many people, inhumane, brutal and sick behavior is not hateful. They lack a moral compass. Thus, it is not a foregone conclusion, and so Hillel is exhorting us to “go and learn”, what in fact, should be hateful to a properly-calibrated human being. We can’t forget that there is a spiritual component to the need to belong. Go and learn Torah, because in order to live the fullness of your humanity, you must let yourself be guided by Divinity.
In this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, Moses, who is but a few weeks away from his death, is instructing and cautioning the Jewish people about the upcoming challenges of facing life in the Land of Israel. In the desert, God was palpable. All of our needs were met by overt daily miracles. And, we saw strict judgment in action. Mess with God, and you were zapped. Mess with the Jewish people – and you went down. Evil was summarily dealt with. There was clarity.
Once we would leave that cocoon to live in the “real world”, however, that clarity could fade. We could forget God as the source of our blessings, and the source of ultimate reality. And then we would be vulnerable to internal confusion and beset by external enemies.
And that is why Moses was stressing the importance over and over to love God, to attach ourselves to God, to emulate God and to walk in His ways. “Be kind to each other, take care of the needy, the orphan, the poor, the widow…”. Because the more we learn and emulate what is holy and shun what is hateful, the closer we are to God. And the closer we are to God, the more palpable His presence.
The idea is to create “desert clarity” now, in our everyday lives, and to create the channel to bring down the divine protection that was given us in the desert. In Eikev, Moses tells us flat out – Heed my words, and your enemies will vanish. You will tread where you will and no man will stand up to you. Really, could this advice be any more timely than today?
Rebuilding Our Community
When we stood at Mount Sinai and accepted the Torah, we were as “one person and one heart”. We were one cohesive community and we were invincible. Now, more than ever, we must regain our interconnection with each other and our connection with God. Love God. Love your fellow man. Be kind. Attach yourself to holiness. Learn what is hateful behavior to a spiritually striving human being– and don’t do it.
So while it’s tempting for me to say, “Fine, I hate Face Book”, or “I hate (the name of person who put up that page)”, or put up my own Face Book page of hate, I’m just not gonna go there. The Torah doesn’t tell me I will prevail over my enemies by hating, or even by hating hate, because then I am just creating another community of hate. If I lose touch with my divinity, I will lose my humanity. And then what have I chosen to attach to? Where do I belong at that point? How can that ever draw down God’s protection and dispel the forces of negativity and evil?
So I have to smile, because I guess the Beatles had it right after all. “All You Need Is Love”. (Are you hearing that song in your head right now?) Maybe they got their inspiration from this week’s Torah portion, which arms us with the most potent secret weapon of all, teaching us that love does, in fact, conquer all.
Bring Down The Page
In the meantime, please go to Face Book, search for and click on the page, “I Hate Israel”. Click on the little 3 dots in the upper right hand corner (next to the like button), which brings up that you are reporting the page to Face Book. Follow the prompts to select offensive hateful speech. So far, 26,000 of us have done this. Let’s make it 260,000 and maybe the great wizard of Face Book will rethink and begin to learn what is hateful, and promote a community of conscience.