It surprised me to learn that most, if not all, things that bother me about others are those deficiencies which I bear an element of, myself. When people arrive late for appointments, for example, it really gets to me sometimes… and it’s not as if I have always been punctual. On the contrary, I’ve felt the temptation to take my time, not thinking that I’m doing so at other people’s expense. “Anyone who criticizes others does so with his own shortcomings” (Talmud Kiddushin 70a).
“Do not hate your brother in your heart” is the usual translation of “Lo Sisna Es Achicha Bilvavecha” (Lev. 19:17). The Chemdas Shlomo (R. Shlomo Zalman Lifshitz zt”l, Chief Rabbi of Warsaw, early 1800’s) offers a sharper, more profound reading — “Do not hate your bother WITH your heart.” The hatred you bear against others concerns a matter which lies in your heart too. Why does his misdeed bother me so much? Because I am challenged by that misdeed myself. Does it make sense to hate someone else for something I’m guilty of?
The next verse (18) in the Torah Portion follows this theme beautifully: “Love your friend as yourself.” You’ve learned to excuse yourself for your own misdeeds; do the same for your friend. After all, you’re both guilty of the same crime!
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org