Shmuel Lemon

An open letter to rabbis, counsellors, and educators



We read numerous articles and hear many lectures that ahavat chinom is the remedy for sinat chinom. But is it really?   What about the hatred that’s extremely hidden that ahavat chinom can’t eliminate? Here are just a few examples.

Firstly, Let’s define baseless hatred.

It means that there is no factual cause, no basis for the hatred.   There may be a perceived one, but upon examination it is shown to be false.

Here’s an example (Secrets of Great Marriages)


“One morning when I was busily hunched over the keyboard, I looked out the window and noticed my husband feeding the deer. He loves doing this, and I could see how much he was enjoying himself. I suddenly became aware that I was grinding my teeth. My thought was “He’s doing just what he feels like while I am in here working.” I saw that this feeling of resentment [the basic foundation of hatred] and envy illuminated an unacknowledged need to feel free to be myself and do those things that please me. I learned to look for the gift in every judgement.”

In this case the wife resented her husband for being free to do what pleased him whilst she was busy working. When she became aware of her jealousy for not having free time for herself she realised that it stemmed from an unacknowledged need to feel free to be herself and do those things that please her.

In other words: Her resentment was baseless.

Here’s another example.


When we gave our attention to my wife’s children or grandchildren [from a previous marriage] for a prolonged period of time, I would at first feel a vague sense of general upset. Then I would become judgemental of my wife, assessing her as neglectful or selfish of me and my children. Then if I stayed with my feeling, I would notice that there was jealousy underneath the judgement. Once it became clear to me that I was jealous, I realised it was an indicator that I wanted a better connection with my wife. I was then able to express my feelings and desires without making her seem wrong, and we could commit to our connection (improve our relationship). But I had to get to the point where I was able to actually recognise what I was feeling and to express my needs and intention in a responsible way.”

In this case the husband resented his wife for being neglectful or selfish. When he became aware that he was jealous of her prolonged period of attention she gave to her family he realised his feelings stemmed from his need for having a better connection with his wife.

In other words: His resentment was baseless.

Here’s another one


“We had to be able to tell the truth to ourselves about what we were actually feeling, no matter what it was.

One of the things I became aware of in looking at my reactions to my wife was how frequently I found myself judging her. In examining this, I came to see, that whenever we had competing desires, I judged her as being selfish or wrong in some way. I saw that my judgements were actually a key to discovering what I wanted at the time. If I judged her as lazy, it is usually because I felt overworked and unwilling to give myself the downtime she was taking. If I judged her as self-absorbed or self-indulgent, it was probably a result of my having failed to take care of myself.”

 In this case the husband resented his wife for being selfish, lazy, self-absorbed or self-indulgent. When he became aware that his judgements stemmed from his unfulfilled desires he realised that his feelings were actually a key to discovering what he wanted or needed at the time.

In other words: His resentment was baseless.

So what’s the solution to sinat chinom?

It’s all about becoming aware of what’s going on in one’s internal make-up.   It’s about becoming acquainted with the world of human needs and feelings. This is what we refer to as being self-aware. Man doesn’t want to acknowledge his human needs. One of the many reasons is because feeling needy is perceived as a weakness. Man believes he must put on a show that “all is ok – we have no weaknesses.” Man naturally suppresses negative feelings instead of dealing with them. We need to allow for them to be acknowledged so that they can be dealt with and not be made to feel that such feelings are not kosher, which causes one to deny them.   Acting out one’s anger is the sin – not the feeling of anger. Otherwise, G-d forbid, we create emotionally unhealthy human beings. This is the only way one can eliminate the hatred / any negative feeling. This description of self-awareness isn’t a matter that one can put into writing in just a few lines. It’s for a book or two!

As Pia Mellody states (author of “Facing Co dependence”)

“Confident in what we know to be the truth about ourselves, we stop blaming others for “making” us feel the way we do.”

I have as yet not heard anyone speak about this aspect of sinat chinom or read an article about it. Can anyone tell me where I can hear such a lecture or read such an article?

I ask all of you rabbis, counsellors and educators; why aren’t you telling the world, especially this time of the year, that without a comprehensive education in self-awareness we are UNABLE (cause and effect) to eradicate sinat chinom?

Why aren’t you living up to your name?

About the Author
Shmuel Lemon has been a communal orthodox Rabbi, teacher, educator and engaged with the Jewish community; presently residing in Edgware England. He had a chareidi background but now considers himself to be a plain orthodox Jew. He has experienced the pulse of today’s adults having being involved with different communities from different backgrounds especially in Israel and Johannesburg. He can be contacted at
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