“And if we and our world were destroyed through baseless hatred, we will rebuild and be rebuilt, through unconditional love.”
(HaRav Kook, “Orot HaKodesh”)
There are expressions in Hebrew that cannot be fully translated.
“Sinat hinam” cannot only mean “baseless hatred”, as there are real reasons for feelings of enmity between Jews.
The expressed solution, “ahavat hinam” does not mean “baseless love” because there is a clear basis for love between Jews – we are one family with connected souls.
Without overstepping our comfort zones, we can increase feelings of solidarity with most of the people around us, through clear acts of unconditional love that highlight the good versus the bad, and naturally reverberate in the world.
Before the 9th of Av, here are 9 behaviors that I hope to perfect one day:
1) Be the first to smile and say Shalom. To family, passers-by, clerks, security personnel – people young and old.
2) Pay people on time and with words of gratitude.
3) Compliment children’s good efforts and choices, to the kids themselves and to their parents.
4) Recommend to others, someone who provided you with pleasant, quality service.
5) Pray for the full recovery of people in need who are close to you, or whom you only hear about. They are our family, even though we have not yet met.
6) Help interested single friends find their mates.
7) Say or write a good word to someone with whom you may have experienced tension in the past.
8) Give tzedaka with a full, discerning heart, and encourage others to give.
9) And finally – Shabbat. That was my son’s response, when I asked him for an example of unconditional love.
Shabbat, he said, is an expression of God’s unconditional love for us. Whether we are worthy or not, we can leave life’s pressures and enter the sweet peace of Shabbat every single week.
We can make Shabbat a restful, enriching, and delicious time for ourselves and many others, and help ”ahavat hinam” ripple through the world.