In honor of parshat Vayeitzei, I want to present an excerpt from the introductory chapter of my [theoretically] forthcoming Book II. In the introduction to Book I, I write that the book project is menat to deal with 2 questions:
- What constitutes a chareidi (according to Yishaya 66:5)?
- Why are the chareidim hated and shunned by their brethren (according to Yishaya 66:5)?
As an introduction to Book II, I wrote a lengthy chapter entitled: The Root of All Hatred.
It discusses what true hatred is, what causes it, and why people do it. It also includes one of my patented tongue-in-cheek Biblical satires that enhance my reputation as an irreverent smart-alec.
I ask myself: How much of this can I get away with? And so, in order to find out, I am putting this excerpt out into the field. This excerpt covers pages 5-17 of a 22 page chapter (book size) but it is the meat of the chapter.
Enjoy (feedback encouraged):
Root of All Hatred - from page 5
What causes hatred?
Yes, of course, we did previously discuss anger, jealousy, fear and prejudice and we may even be able to throw in some extras such as feelings of guilt, shame, frustration and inadequacy, but all of these are actually components, not causes, of hatred. The question is, what transforms human emotions into anger, jealousy, fear, etc. and ultimately into hatred?
As Tevye the Milchman said: “That I can answer in one word” – Unhappiness.
Yes, unhappiness! (It’s a tradition!)
If someone is happy with himself and with how he gets along with the important people of his life, he has no motivation to hate anybody. Happy people do not hate. It is only unhappy people who choose to hate other people because they feel that it is the other person’s fault that they are unhappy. If only the other person (or people) would not continue to do what he does, would do something else, or wouldn’t be here at all, the poor oppressed hater [presumes that he] would be happy.
Alas, now that that person won’t stop doing what he does, or won’t do what I want him to do, or won’t go away, and all this is making me quite unhappy, I am justified to hate, detest, abhor, loathe, dislike, shun, spurn, hold in contempt, despise, disdain, deride, ridicule, fault, blame, criticize, condemn, malign, vilify, denigrate, disparage, deplore, or at least decide that I won’t be best friends with this evil uncooperative demon.
This concept is not my own. It is modeled from a popular thesis in human behavior developed by Dr. William Glasser, M.D., founder of the William Glasser Institute. He calls his thesis Choice Theory and he calls the resulting application Reality Therapy. I cannot do justice to this thesis in the few lines that I can allot to this discussion, but if I may, I will try to briefly summarize his assertion.
Dr. Glasser posits that we live in a world that is driven by what he terms external control. Here is what he means: Human beings are similar to animals in that they are constantly in search of satisfying their physical needs for survival and physical comfort. In addition to this survival need, humans are unique that they have strictly human emotional needs – for love and belonging, power and respect, freedom, and fun. Every individual has his own profile of what measure of each of these five basic needs is essential for his well being. For example, some people have a very strong need for power and respect and not so much for fun and freedom. These people may become workaholics and control freaks. They may not have much spare time for themselves, but they don’t miss it. Others may have a strong need for love and belonging and not so much for power. These people will be loyal and submissive and yet be content. There are myriad combinations.
Each person creates a picture in his mind of what would be for him the ideal society and environment based on his personal needs and interests. Glasser calls this a person’s quality world. This quality world is an imaginary place in which all of one’s needs are met to his satisfaction. Thus, it is natural that every person goes about his business doing his utmost to make his real world come as close as possible to his quality world. Perceivably, this is what would make him happy.
For most people, the real world never comes close enough. And so he is unhappy. The individual subconsciously tries to determine what is going wrong and his subconscious reaches a natural conclusion: the reason that he cannot attain his quality world is because his quality world is his own. The people with whom he interacts – his spouse and his family, his co-workers, superiors and underlings, his neighbors, government official and authorities, or perhaps, his clergymen and co-religionists - do not share his personal quality world. They each have their own. Their lack of cooperation in his quality world is what is making him unhappy. The question now becomes: what must he do to rectify this discrepancy?
The natural answer is to exert whatever influence is available to cause others to participate in the attainment of his personal quality world. In other words, get the other people to behave as he wants. This is what Dr. Glasser calls: external control - the endeavor to control the behavior of someone other than one’s self.
Theoretically, external control is the simplest solution to attaining happiness, i.e., realizing one’s quality world. So it would make sense to implement it except for one minor snag: it almost never works. This is because one can never control another person’s behavior. But, being that most unhappy people are not aware of this fact, this does not stop them from trying. Dr. Glasser writes that most people maintain an external control psychology that comprises the following sequential set of beliefs:
- I answer a ringing phone, open the door to a doorbell, stop at a red light, or do countless other things because I am responding to a simple external signal (i.e., my response is not by free choice but rather that the signal compelled me to do it. – YH).
- I can make other people do what I want them to do even if they do not want to do it. And other people can control how I think, act, and feel. (In other words, people have the ability to control others. – YH)
- It is right, it is even my moral obligation, to ridicule, threaten, or punish those who don’t do what I tell them to do or even reward them if it will get them to do what I want. (In other words, to the extent that I can control somebody else, I have the right to do it. – YH)
Thus, people resort to external control techniques of reward and punishment, coercion, and brute force. All this, in an attempt to realize their quality world and thereby relieve their misery.
But Dr. Glasser illustrates that belief #1 is wrong. We are not compelled to respond to external signals. We choose to respond to external signals and we can choose to respond differently. Consequently, belief #2 is wrong. We cannot control other people because they have the choice to choose from whatever responses are available. Belief #3 is not necessarily contingent upon the first two, but it is a natural attitude of one who subscribes to external control psychology.
What emerges is that not only are all three beliefs patently false, but as concerns the first two beliefs, the exact opposite is true. We can only control our own behavior, we cannot control another’s behavior. When undesirable events, i.e., things that interfere with our quality world, befall us, we are naturally unhappy. Thus, we believe that the events made us angry or jealous or fearful. Dr. Glasser maintains that although our natural impulse is to ‘get’ angry or jealous or fearful, we don’t passively become angry as if we are not in control. Our own behavior is the only department in which we are indeed in control - we choose to be angry. Glasser actually dispenses with the transitive term “get angry” and replaces it with an active term “anger”. We are unhappy about this situation and so we choose to anger, or- we choose to envy (active tense of being jealous), or- we choose to fear, or- we choose to depress (in contrast to becoming depressed). Ultimately, we choose to remain unhappy and accordingly, as we do not acknowledge this to be our personal choice and we look toward others as the sole source of our unhappiness, we choose to hate. This is our behavior and we can control it and nobody else. Accordingly, says Dr. Glasser, when one is faced with a situation that conflicts with his quality world, and external control doesn’t seem to work, as is often, though not always, the case, it doesn’t make sense to continue implementing a remedy that has not worked until now. It is far more sensible to shift gears and to see what he can achieve by modifying his own behavior. This means that a person who is unhappy because of the way that reality conflicts with his picture of a quality world has two options that are totally within his control:
- Change what he does – i.e., his own behavior – toward achieving his quality world
- Change his picture of a quality world to something more realistic.
Sadly, very few people are students of Choice Theory (Dr. Glasser laments about this repeatedly in his writings). So the story is usually the same: external control minded people – i.e., most of us – are adamant that their relationships with the people who affect their personal quality worlds must function on their terms. When it doesn’t, they try to remedy the situation by exerting control techniques – reward or punishment, sheer domination, or harassment in the form of criticism and blame. If that doesn’t work or it is beyond their capabilities, they cut these people out of their quality world by withdrawing from them or discriminating against them (intolerance) or by doing away with them – murder. Regardless, the subject has come no closer to realizing his quality world and therefore remains unhappy. All that he accomplished was to damage or destroy a relationship that was potentially vital to his well being.
Now we understand what causes hatred – it is the inability to control or influence the behavior of people who do not help one realize his personal quality world.
We have also learned something else. We have learned that all of the symptoms of hatred that I described a few pages back are actually commonly used techniques of external control.
Hateful people are fixated on controlling the behavior of the people who, in their opinion, are not ‘behaving’. Note that this control is totally independent of the need for ‘power and respect’ that was listed earlier as one of the five basic needs that may or may not be a vitally essential component for the quality world of the individual. Even one who has a low need for power and respect but has strong unfulfilled needs in other areas – for example, freedom or pleasure (survival) – is interested in controlling the behavior of relevant people to comply with the demands of his needs.
Now, we can better understand Pharaoh’s concerns. Pharaoh was only interested in hosting the Children of Israel insomuch as they are instrumental in helping him achieve his quality world (which probably involved a lot of power and respect). Pharaoh had to be in control. It is very likely that the Israelites were no more numerous than Egypt but they very likely were more powerful - albeit not in a physical sense. They had their own agenda, their own quality world; and it did not match Pharaoh’s. It wasn’t so much that they could overpower or control Egypt but that Egypt could not overpower or control them. That level of power – the autonomy of the Jews - was more than Pharaoh could tolerate. They “are more powerful than we” – i.e., we cannot control their behavior, and consequently, they have more power than we can manage.
And so, Egypt embarked on a campaign to disempower the Jews and to augment their own power. Their message was: “We will defeat them before they defeat us.” And how does this drama end? Ki ba sus Pharaoh… “For Pharaoh’s horses with their chariots with their riders came to meet the sea…”(Shmos 15:19). In a frenzy of hatred they took their best [remaining] chariots, soldiers and horses and, of their own volition, rushed headlong into a raging sea.
Pharaoh’s imagination became a self fulfilled prophecy. All because he thought there were too many Jews hanging around. And he never bothered to count.
Pharaoh is in good company. The Tanach (and, indeed, history) is replete with stories of hatred, all of which are composed of the same basic elements: (1) a protagonist who does not comply with the quality world picture of a seemingly higher ranking or more powerful antagonist and (2) an antagonist who resorts to external control techniques in an attempt to compel the protagonist to cooperate in fulfilling his (the antagonist’s) personal needs or, alternatively, to totally remove the protagonist from his quality world. In all of these cases most observers would agree with the statement: the antagonist hates the protagonist.
To help visualize this concept, as well as to lighten up an otherwise somber chapter, I invite the reader to sit in as an observer of a day in the life of a Biblical psychotherapist. We are about to witness the most popular external control techniques, a.k.a. symptoms of hatred - intolerance, control by punishment, control by reward, domination, and murder – put into action.
Therapist: Miss Lillith, please admit the first patient! Well-l-l, if it isn’t his majesty King Nimrod! What seems to be the trouble, O Mighty Lion? You don’t seem your chipper self today!
Nimrod: The Mighty Lion has a thorn in his paw.
Therapist: And who might this thorn-in-the-paw be?
Nimrod: A disloyal subject.
Therapist: An oxymoron, your Highness. Who could even think of defying you?
Nimrod: He calls himself Abram of the Opposite Side.
Therapist: Not a team player, is he?
Nimrod: Not in the slightest.
Therapist: What’s his game?
Nimrod: He claims there is an unseeable almighty G‑d who created the entire universe and basically runs the whole shooting match.Therapist: Ridiculous! Well, if this “G‑d” is unseeable we can simply ignore Him, can we not?
Nimrod: Not really. This fellow’s been acting up lately.
Therapist: How so?
Nimrod: His father went on a business trip and left him minding the store. By the time poppa got back, every idol but one was in bits and pieces. Kid claims that the big one smashed the rest of them. Poppa kinda slipped up and remarked that the idol can’t do that. Kid says, “Ah-ha! So you admit these things are powerless!” Now people are talking. If this thing gets around, you know, no good for business.
Therapist: So, his Majesty is not interested in competition, is that it? How do you usually handle competitors?
Nimrod: Never had one.
Therapist: Well there were those fellows that didn’t cooperate on that tower project weren’t there?
Nimrod: Oh yeah, these guys were missing the team spirit; it was like they were talking a different language. In any case, these guys didn’t follow the safety rules. Most of them got involved in ‘work accidents’. Quite unfortunate.
Therapist: What about those towns out West that stopped paying their taxes.
Nimrod: They are just a bunch of ignorant boors who cannot seem to understand the social value of the tax system. For that reason, I am sending a specially trained group of tax collectors. These fellows have a way of explaining things.
Therapist: So I’ve heard. Does this Abram fellow pay his taxes?
Nimrod: On time.
Therapist: What about following safety rules?
Nimrod: Except for the first two.
Therapist: Correct me if I am wrong, your esteemed Majesty, those would be (1) the Mighty Lion is the King and (2) there is no other King. So, our thorny friend refuses to acknowledge these two unshakable principles?
Nimrod: He seems to have a slightly different version.
Therapist: Well then, perhaps there will be no one to fault but himself if he were to encounter a ‘work accident’. What line of work is he in?
Nimrod: Education - not an accident prone field. Besides, an accident would not be in my best interest. People may misunderstand and others may take his place.
Therapist: You could cut off his state funding.
Nimrod: I’d like to cut off a lot more than that. But he’s got a privately funded institution; doesn’t take a dime.
Therapist: But even so, he must comply with the state’s curriculum.
Nimrod: He assures me that he spends a great deal of class time discussing everything about our wonderful King. Now, I have a real strong hunch that he doesn’t mean me, only it’s been impossible to prove.
Therapist: Well, haven’t you sent him some ‘students’ from the Nimrod Knowledge Verification Department?
Nimrod: You mean the NKVD? Yes, I’ve sent throngs of them. Next thing you know they are all at the camel stations handing out candles and kerchiefs to the women and tying up the men with black leather boxes. Not one ever came back to report.
Therapist: But is he not required to abide by the rules of the Teachers Union?
Nimrod: He’s been turning down the membership. Says he doesn’t need the benefits.
Therapist: What does his Royal Highness’s union chief usually do with people who refuse to be a member?
Nimrod: He dismembers them.
Therapist: So, why not now?
Nimrod: Like I said, people are talking. We can dismember him but that won’t take care of his unseeable G‑d. I want to see his entire ideology go up in smoke.
Therapist: Perhaps his Eminence oughtn’t be so dominating. Maybe it would help if you showed him a little warmth, if you try to meet his ideas with a bit of fiery enthusiasm.
Nimrod: Yes, you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t try to force him to see things my way just because everybody else does. Maybe I should leave him alone in a well-lit quiet spot and see how things heat up. The more I think of it the better I feel.
Therapist: Well then, O Great One. That sums it up for now. Please come back next week and let me know how things went. And, oh, as usual, this session is on the house.
Next patie…What is that Miss Lillith? Urgent call on Line 3? Sounds a bit frantic? Alright, I’ll take the call. Hello! – Yes, Mr. Caine. How are you? – Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. – Your younger brother, huh? – Yes, you already told me that you think he is just so much hot air. - Yes, I see. You just couldn’t manage to get your offering to score points and – Ah-ha. He could do it and you just weren’t Able. – Please, Mr. Caine, you must calm down and try to relax. Perhaps, if you only improved the way you… – Uh-huh. Others have been telling you that lately? Well, maybe… – OK, OK. Just please calm down. What if you just had a nice talk… - You did? What was it that you said to your brother? – Nobody is supposed to know? Well, your secret is safe with me. Now, now, please, try to control yoursel… - What was that? He makes you want to just mur… – No, Mr. Caine, you can’t be serious. That will solve nothing. You must consider the conseque… – Mr. Caine, I beg of you, let’s not start a mutiny, please just take a deep breath and relax. Even if you were to “get away with it”, as you say, you must realize that you would be ostracized from society. You would become a drifter, marked for life - Mr. Caine, may I suggest an emergency appointment? Can you be in my office at 4:00? - Very well. In the meanwhile, just lie down and rest and don’t speak with anyone, especially your brother. You need not be your brother’s keeper. See you at 4:00, then? - OK, good-bye.
Miss Lillith, this client is quite distraught and I am concerned that he may do something irrational. Please alert the proper authorities and you may admit the next patient.
Ah yes, Mr. Lavan deCheat. It’s been what – about six years since you came to me last? And, how are you today?
Lavan: Not as good as yesterday!
Therapist: And what seems to be the problem?
Lavan: It’s my son-in-law, again. He ran off on me just when I was trying to get the upper hand.
Therapist: Would you like to tell me about it?
Lavan: Well, you know how it’s been these past twenty years. Just like I told you, this fellow comes to visit me without a dime. He didn’t even bring a bottle of wine for Shabbos. Now, I see a great opportunity here. I’ll get this guy to run my business, do the dirty work. You know, work myself up on his shoulders. I was just afraid that right after I show him the ropes, he’ll bolt on me and go into business for himself. So I had a great plan to pin him down for a while: promise him one daughter for seven years of labor, then, when the seven years are up, I’ll pull the old bride switcheroo and get him to put in another seven years for his beloved. I figured that by then he’ll forget all about his home town and he’ll be my personal sheep dog. I even threw in two extra daughters to make sure he stays put.
Therapist: Yes, yes. I recall you told me all that at our last session.
Lavan: Well, would you believe that after the fourteen years the ingrate wants to pack up and leave? After all I’ve done for him! He says, “What do I have to stick around for? You never even gave me a share in the business.” Come on, four wives aren’t enough? Now, I’m a bit worried because my boys who have been partying around all this time don’t really know how to run this business, they would just run it to the ground.
Therapist: Of course, Mr. deCheat. There is no need to go over the details from six years back. We did set a strategy then, did we not?
Lavan: Yes we did. We decided that I should give him a piece of the business, just nothing to get excited about. He’ll get all the freaks and rejects, which there won’t be many of cuz all of my sheep have been coming out white as snow. That’ll keep him in the fold without a controlling share.
Therapist: So how did that work out?
Lavan: Not like I expected. All of a sudden, freaks and rejects were in high demand. Nobody wanted a white sheep anymore. And - would you believe it? – all the first bred sheep were coming out speckled and striped and only the second litter was white. He was making a mint on my account.
Therapist: So what did you do?
Lavan: Like any self respecting businessman, I demanded to renegotiate the terms. I thought that would rile him up.
Therapist: And what did he say?
Lavan: He said, “No problem. You just call ‘em.” I said, “How about you just taking the patchy ones with striped feet.”
Lavan: The guy didn’t flinch. Three weeks later he’s walking around with a whole flock of patchy ones like that. I told him that I didn’t really mean patchy like that, I meant speckled ones with patches on the ankles. Three weeks later – Voila! A new flock just like we said. I changed the deal again but now I’m getting a bit suspicious so I send some of my boys to spy on him. They tell me that he’s been taking wooden sticks and putting stripes and spots on them and sticking them over the troughs. Ah-ha! So now I really give him a tough one – brown sheep with white patches at the shoulders, stripes on the legs and a speckled tail. Let’s see him do that with those sticks. All he says is, “No problem.” And three weeks later, there they are. Man, I must have done this 100 times. He’s got the craziest looking sheep that anyone has ever seen and I get all the white ones. Just, for some nutty reason, people are willing to pay five times more for his freaky sheep than for my normal ones.
Therapist: So your sheep don’t have much market value?
Lavan: No, I wouldn’t say that. My sheep still bring in big bucks. I’m the chief exporter of sheep to Canaan; they got no one there who knows how to raise them. You know our mottos: “Let deCheat and Sons Pull the Wool Over Your Eyes” and “There’s Nuttin’ Like Our Mutton”. I’m still raking in a hefty profit (of course, that’s not what my accountant tells the tax people). No, I ain’t goin’ hungry.
Therapist: Then why such a long face?
Lavan: Well, as rich as I kept getting, this lazy good-for-nothing son-in-law kept getting richer - on my stock! This really burns me up. I’m having bad dreams. I asked him if he ever gets bad dreams. He says, “No, I hardly ever sleep at night.” No wonder! He’s too busy counting sheep. They ought to be my sheep. This guy’s got my sheep and he’s got my daughters and he’s got my grandsons and all I have is this miserable mansion and all of these…
Therapist: Now, Mr. deCheat, get a hold on yourself. If you don’t like this fellow, why do you miss him?
Lavan: Because, as much as I got, he’s got more. And now he wants to relocate and open up his own operation down in Canaan. I had the market cornered there. He’ll blow me out of the water!
Therapist: Now, now, Mr. deCheat. I am certain that you can open new markets. I think that you would do splendid in Midian.
Lavan: I don’t care if I get Midian, Moab and the whole East Bank. If this guy is headed to Canaan, that’s where all the action is and I want it.
Therapist: So, what do you have in mind?
Lavan: I’m gonna go after him and see if I can’t uproot every last shred. Nobody gets the best of Lavan deCheat.
Therapist: Mr. deCheat, I am a bit less than optimistic about your chances for success, but if you feel that this will achieve your noble aims, then I wish you all the best. Please get in touch with me in, say, another six years and let me know how things are going. Oh, and, I don’t mean to be pretentious, but you still have an outstanding balance for our previous sessions.
Lavan: No problem, I’ll have one of my boys drop off some striped and speckled sheep – soon as they’re born. Thank you ever so much.
Therapist: Next patient, please. Ah. A new face. And to whom do I attribute this honor?
Patient: I didn’t really want to come but my wife kind of talked me into it.
Therapist: You must be a very devoted husband Mr…?
Patient: Hamdatha. Ben Hamdatha. My friends call me Haman. And I’ve got lots of friends.
Therapist: And a caring wife. Now, in what way can I be of service, Mr. Haman?
Patient: Well, I’m a pretty important guy. Got a top government position, friends in high places, you know. Lots of sons and a good deal of wealth and, you know, all of this is barely worth a cent to me just cuz of one guy who sits by the palace gate and I can’t get him to…
By now, we should be noticing a pattern:
Why did Nimrod hate Abram, Cain hate Able, Lavan hate Jacob, and Haman hate Mordechai?
Because they were unhappy people who looked upon the recalcitrant behavior of others who affect their quality world as the source of their unhappiness.
And what did they do?
They attempted to control the actions of these other people.
Did that bring them any closer to realizing their own quality worlds?
And so, why do non-Jews hate the Jews?
Because they do not like their behavior, they believe that they can and are entitled to control this "distasteful" behavior (see the three basic beliefs above) and it is not working.
Why do many secular Jews hate the religious Jews?
Because the behavior of the religious Jews does not fit into their picture of a quality world. They would like to manipulate their behavior, but it is not working.
Why is it that there are some non-chareidi Orthodox Jews who hate the chareidim?
Because the chareidim do not behave as they would like. They would like to be able to control their behavior, but it doesn’t work.
(Incidentally, if any of you readers are at odds with your spouse, your children/parents, employer/employee or teacher/students, would you like to know why?)
 Incidentally (and sadly), this is how many people feel about their spouses, children, teachers, and/or parents.
 Dr. Glasser defines fun as any activity driven by the desire to learn something new.
 I suppose that this is what others call “manipulation”, but for Choice Theory, Dr. Glasser’s terminology is more precise because it insinuates external as opposed to internal or self-oriented control. I will stick to Glasser’s terminology most of the way through.
 It can be argued that it used to work. That is, that in days of yore, people had a higher level of respect for authority – wives for their husbands, children for their parents, students for their teachers, and workers for their superiors. Those days are gone. The past few centuries driven by emancipation and liberal notions have certainly leveled the playing field and have brought chutzpah to new heights. This was predicted in the Talmud tractate Sota 49b and even by the prophet Isaiah 3:5.
 Glasser, William, M.D. Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom, Harper Perennial, 1998, p. 16
 This does not say that external control is always impossible. Brute force is often effective. This is because “to force” by definition means to coerce an outcome by eliminating all other alternative outcomes. Thus, a person can be left with “little or no choice”. Still it is rare to have absolutely no other choice. Moreover, one who must control with brute force is “enslaved” by the necessity to implement it. I call this the “Elevator Door Syndrome”. If one wishes to hold up an elevator, he can do it with ease by putting his hand against the open door. The only problem is that he is stuck standing there for all the time that he wants to show the elevator who is boss. The minute he tires and removes his hand, the elevator reverts to its original behavior. Similarly, brute force, even when it works, it is usually temporary and at a price. The Nazis were so taxed by their policy of enslavement and extermination that they expended critical resources that were vital to military success. Thus, their frenzy to dominate their rivals dominated them.
 Sound familiar? This is the message that Noah Efron paraphrased into Tommy Lapid’s party line as was noted in page 132 of One Above and Seven Below.