The Parsha in Chesed – Ki Teitzei
Some form of the word שנא/hate appears quite frequently in Parshat Ki Teitzei.
• “If a man has a two wives, one loved and one hated.” (The man is forbidden to favor the son of the loved)
• “If a man marries a woman…and hates her” (and subsequently spreads false stories, lashon hara, about her).
• “And the second man will hate her” (after she had already been divorced from her first husband).
Hate is a terrible feeling. As my mother used to say, hate is perhaps one of the worst, yet most often used, of the “four letter words”.
Baseless hatred has been the cause of wars, suffering, and societal ills since the beginning of time. Even in this parsha, the hatred towards one’s wife can lead to raising a בן סורר ומורה, a rebellious son.
Are all of these instances of “hate” real? Can a person think that he/she is hated by someone when in fact there are no such feelings?
Prior to becoming the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah V’daas, Rav Avraham Pam taught in the younger divisions of the yeshiva. One time, while meeting with parents at the annual PTA conference, Rav Pam was questioned by Mrs. Goldstein, the mother of one of his students.
“Rav Pam, my son would like to know why you hate him. My husband and I are also curious as to why you would have such feelings. Moshe is such a good boy!”
Taken by surprise, Rav Pam answered, “Hate him? I don’t hate anyone and certainly not one of my students. Moshe is a wonderful and well-behaved student. Did he express something in particular that I did or said?”
Mrs. Goldstein explained, “Moshe says that you rarely call on him to answer questions even when he raises his hand.”
Rav Pam, who was known to be a very sensitive and caring person, took this to heart. He assured Mrs. Goldstein that he had only love and respect for Moshe and would be more attentive from that day and on.
Rav Pam then went on to tell Mrs. Goldstein that this incident helped him understand a difficulty that he always had in understanding something in the Chumash.
Yaakov was married to Rachel and Leah. Although tricked into marrying Leah, he nonetheless accepted her as a wife, just as he did Rachel.
The Torah in ויצא פרשת says: “וירא ה כי שנואה לאה ‘””-And HaShem saw that Leah was hated. He therefore blessed her with children prior to Rochel.
Is it fathomable that the great Yaakov Avinu hated anyone and certainly his wife? How did HaShem “see” that Leah was hated?
Rav Pam went on to say that Leah felt hated because Yaakov favored Rachel. Yaakov didn’t harbor an iota of bad feeling. His being more attentive to Rachel created that perception in Leah. HaShem “saw” how Leah felt.
Often someone’s perception is her reality. Leah felt unloved by her husband.
The consequence for Yaakov not being more sensitive was that his beloved Rachel did not merit childbirth with the same blessing as Leah.
Rav Pam realized that in fact he might not have been calling on Moshe as much as other students, thus creating the perception in Moshe’s eyes, that his rebbe disliked him.
Perception being the reality lies at the heart of what Leah says upon the birth of her second son, Shimon:
“ותאמר כי שמע ה’ כי שנואה אנכי ויתן לי גם את זה” – “And she said since HaShem heard that I am hated and (therefore) gave me also this (son)”.
The Torah doesn’t say here (as opposed to the earlier pasuk) that HaShem saw that I am hated. He heard. Leah felt less in the eyes of her husband and expressed this through her emotions. While one couldn’t see any hatred on the part of Yaakov, HaShem “heard” how Leah felt this way.
Relationships are the lifeline of our existence. The connection to our spouse, parents, children, co-workers, friends and others around us are a 2-way street. We must make certain that we are sending the proper signals to all those in our lives.
When ill feelings arise, the healthy way is to work through them rather than let hatred build or fester. While not easy, the efforts expended in mending relationships are a most worthwhile investment.
There are countless directives within the Torah as to how to interact with others, be it family, friends or even the stranger on the street.
All those with whom we co-exist should have the perception that they are loved, appreciated and respected.
By using more thought and consideration we can brighten the lives of all those around us. A smile, greeting or a little bit of tzedaka and kindness can go a long way.