The Courage to Care and Heal Division

We live in a fractured world where there is too much dislike, disdain, and detachment. When someone says something or does something we disagree with, how do we respond? Do we react forcefully? Do we write them off and “cancel” them? We are living in times where nations rise up against nations, terror and gun violence are prevalent, political campaigns often unravel into slander fests, and even within families we can unfortunately find separation and cutoffs.

The short term and long-term results of such behavior can only lead to more unrest and division. The good news is that our Torah addresses this issue spot on in the second Parsha we  read this week, Kedoshim, and instructs us how to proceed.



לֹֽא־תִשְׂנָ֥א אֶת־אָחִ֖יךָ בִּלְבָבֶ֑ךָ הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ 

You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove your fellow and incur no sin on their account.

You would hopefully agree with this and say, “Of course we must not hate our brother in our hearts!” So, what is the Torah teaching us here?

The Chizkuni, Hezekiah ben Manoah, a French rabbi and Bible commentator of the 13th century, explains that too often we hate another in our hearts because we misunderstand them. It could be that we misinterpreted something and therefore we harbor resentment and upset.

The antidote: הוֹכֵ֤חַ תּוֹכִ֙יחַ֙ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ Reprove your fellow -  approach him/her, tell the person directly that you are upset and allow him to either explain himself or apologize, and ultimately, improve the situation.

Then וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א עָלָ֖יו חֵֽטְא׃ and incur no sin on their account- which means that by courageously confronting the matter, you will benefit your friend as well as yourself by removing the hatred from your heart. Otherwise, the bad feelings can linger, go unchecked and the relationship can sour.

Imagine how many relationships could be healed if we lived up to this divine and holy precept. 

Let’s learn from our Parsha and remove any ill will from our hearts by courageously addressing the person we feel has hurt us and strengthen the warmth, love, and friendship we treasure. Then we will be able to fulfill the next verse as well

וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ Love your neighbor as thyself.


Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Epstein
Community Scholar in Residence