We all know it’s bad to hate people, but it’s still so hard to stop doing it.
So, you remember that amazing shiur by Rav Ofer Erez that I was gushing about a couple of week’s back, which set out exactly which of our bad middot are still holding up the geula? In a nutshell, he told us that if we can figure out how to stop hating people, BOOM!, we’ll get Beit HaMikdash.
(You can see it in full, HERE.)
Well, I’ve been using that shiur as a practical guide to identifying, and hopefully uprooting all the feelings of sinat chinam I’ve been secretly nurturing against a whole bunch of people. As Rav Ofer teaches in this shiur, sinat chinam, or hating other people, is what’s preventing the third temple from being rebuilt, and hating other people expresses itself mainly in the following four things:
- Hakpada (harsh judgment calls about other people)
And here’s the kicker: even if you’re just feeling this stuff secretly, in your own heart of hearts, and even if you aren’t really aware that you’re feeling this stuff yourself, it still counts as ‘sinat chinam’, and it’s still delaying the geula!
So, how can we finally get all this stuff out of our system and get to Moshiach and geula already?
This is what I’m doing.
1) I made a ‘sinat chinam’ matrix – which is basically just writing down the four bad middot that are associated with it, like this.
2) Then in hitbodedut (my talking to God sessions), I thought about particular people I don’t like very much for one reason and another, and I slotted them in on the matrix.
For example, there’s one person who double-crossed me in business, and even though I got past the anger and what she’d done to me last year, when I was doing this exercise now, I realized that I still, properly, hate her guts, and that I’m still judging her unethical, nasty behavior extremely harshly.
BINGO! I just hit a ‘sinat chinam’ jackpot here…
The first stage is to identify and acknowledge the problem, which is what I’ve just done very nicely.
So now the next question is: how do I actually stop hating people like her, and thinking she’s the biggest pig on the planet?
THE ‘ERADICATING SINAT CHINAM’ VISUALISATION
The next stage is to close your eyes (I like to do this as part of my hitbodedut…) and go and have a very direct conversation with the person in your head. Weird as this sounds, it’s the shortcut version of how to stop hating people.
So in this case, I conjured up the lady and I asked her straight out:
“Why did a supposedly ‘frum’ person like you act in such a disgusting, unethical way? Why didn’t you pay me what you should have? I had times when I couldn’t even put food on the table, and the money you were meant to have paid me could have made a huge difference!”
This is what she said back:
“Have you met my husband?”
I have. He’s a very angry, cynical, manipulative person who’s obsessed with ‘winning’ and making money.
Long story short, I finally understood that the lady double-crossed me so badly because on some level at least, she was scared of her husband and was trying to save her own skin at the cost of mine.
Understanding this doesn’t excuse her behavior or actions an iota, but it did open the door for me to have some compassion for her, and to stop hating her and judging her so harshly.
That particular pocket of sinat chinam disappeared out of my life, just like that!
If you listen to Rav Ofer’s shiur, you’ll discover something amazing, that’s brought down in the Gemara and is normative Yiddishkeit, not just ‘fluffy’ Breslov:
God can’t judge a person favorably until some human being down here on the planet has done it first.
And as soon as God starts to judge someone favorably, that opens the door for them to make real teshuva.
Me seeing that my ex-business associate was acting like a pig because her shalom bayit is a trainwreck has now opened the door to her to make real teshuva, and to come back to God.
The whole thing is bringing Moshiach and geula a huge step closer – and it took me about 10 minutes of hitbodedut to do!
So, dear reader, I want to encourage you to please try this at home. Make your ‘sinat chinam’ matrix, start popping in the people you have ‘issues’ with (my suggestion is to start with just three at a time, to avoid overwhelm) – and then start taking all the sinat chinam in the world down a serious notch.
Again, this point is so important, I’m going to repeat it:
When you do this process, and judge people’s bad actions through this more compassionate lens, you are bringing Moshiach and geula, mamash!
And the first person who’s going to benefit from this exercise of learning how to stop hating people is you, because instead of walking around with all kinds of stress, headaches, health problems and aches and pains because of all that pent-up sinat chinam you’re lugging around that is literally poisoning you from the inside, you’ll start to feel so much lighter and happier.
It’s a win-win situation!
And it all begins with a quick 10 minute exercise where we actually tell the horrible person who’s upset us so badly exactly what we think of them in our heads.
May we all be zocher to get the good times rolling very, very soon.