Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Zachor Ess Asher Assah Amalek -The Root of All Hatred

About 3 months ago on Parshat VaYeitzei I wrote a post entitled The Biblical Psycotherapist that discussed a proposed introductory chapter to Book Two of 1A7B and contained an excerpt. This chapter was an overview on the root causes of social hatred in the form of anti-semitism and chareidi-phobia. This actually began as a term paper for an adult education class I was taking in psychology and counseling.

Since that time I have discovered the wonders of iPaper (in case you never noticed) so, due to the timeliness of the subject, I have decided to release the entire chapter in iPaper. This can be found at the end of this post.

In the spirit of Purim, I have extracted the routine about the Biblical Psychotherapist for those who have not read it and reposted it out of context into the body of this post. It still maintains its place in the chapter for the idea it was meant to illustrate.


The Biblical Psychotherapist

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.”

Therapist: And?

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…

Root of All Hatred_Scribd Edit


Dov said...

You post on the root of all hatred, but not on the root of Amalek. Since you've posted recently from Sanhedrin 97 and Sanhedrin 100, I assume you've seen the origins of Amalek around Sanhedrin 99.

The bottom line: the true root of all hatred is people who push others away without being sure to draw them closer at the same time.

See this article for more on the subject. And the Gemorah in Sanhedrin for more, and if you really want you can check out the Torah Tmima on the Posuk in Vayishlach.

Yechezkel said...

WADR, I must vehemently disagree. What you describe is - rejection - is actually just one item on a list of s\causes for one of the emotions that were listed in the essay: Anger. A better term for "anger" may be "resentment" as resentment for being wronged or believing that one has been wronged. The "wronging" that causes resentment is a lengthy list which includes when one has been criticized, blamed, accused, physically harmed, humiliated, financially harmed (If I stole your money or damaged your property), shamed, or - as is your example - rejected. All of these are causes of anger/resentment which is only one of several emotions that also include jealousy and fear. All this was covered in the essay.

For you to choose one cause of one emotion and call that the "Root of hatred" to indicate that it overshadows every other cause or emotion is terribly pretentious.

The Chazal about Timna that you refer to is an important lesson but it stands alongside other equally important Chazals such as "Do not favor one son over another" (a reference to Yosef and jealousy) and the story of Kamtza/Bar Kamtza (shaming in public).

I suspect that the thrust of your comment was actually to draw us to the item on your blog. So may I note that you were successful at that venture and I did indeed read it.

Kol Tuv,


Dov said...

ACtually, it's the opposite -- my original post was motivated by seeing many people on all ends of the spectrum who believe that being correct (or believing that they're correct) justifies all expression of what they're correct about. And I see on a daily basis the damage that is caused by negative expressions of what may be originally correct beliefs. Israel is way too full of people who are doche be'shtei yadayim, and the results are the horrible machloksim that we all see.

As you probably know, doche be'shtei yadayim is also what brought xianity.

Rashi in the Timna story goes so far as to say that Avraham should have accepted Timna despite her being wrongly motivated, in order to avoid being doche be'shtei yadayim.

Yes, you can point to many other things that Chazal say are bad. It's not a race, my friend, and I don't care if doche be'shtei yadayim is "beaten out" by something even worse. The point is the damage that we Jews are doing to the world by being doche be'shtei yadayim, and the fact that religious Jews that should know better, who should have learned the gemoras about Amalek and xianity are making the same mistakes today, with equally tragic results.

Yechezkel said...

I have not disagreed that rejection (docheh b'shtei yadayim) is a very potent factor but I still maintain that it is one contributor of a larger issue. You are correct that many cases of "docheh" were the "root" of disastrous events but I need to deal with situatons of hatred that were not triggered by "docheh". Take Kamtza/Bar Kamtza as an example. Your thesis aptly explains trhe behavior of Bar Kamtza but it does not explain the behavior of the party host who was not rejected by anybody. So docheh only goes half-way. Also, if we examine Kayin and Hevel, I have a hard time saying that Kayin was a subject of "docheh b'shtei yadayim". The message to him was אם תיטיב שאת ואם לא תיטיב... there was clearly kiruv with one hand while there may have been dichui with the other and the results were just as disatrous.

To discuss this further, please contact me off-line.

Good Shabbos.