Fighting Hate with Love

Rabbi Jonathan Aaron

The last six months have been filled with human tragedy after human tragedy. When natural disasters occur, we react with sympathy and empathy and caring. When murder and terror occur we are struck with two sides of our emotional repertoire: compassion and anger. Our hearts go out to all the families who were affected by the attacks on religious communities in the midst of prayer.

Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war

From Pittsburgh to Christchurch to Sri Lanka to San Diego, hate took the lives of peaceful, prayerful communities, and shook us all down to our core. Anger wells up and fills us with an uneasy energy, with furrowed brows and short fuses. At these times, I use verses from our tradition to help ground me.

The first is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), the second is, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war.” (Isaiah 2:4). The first is my own spiritual quest, and the effect I have on the people with whom I interact: to treat everyone that I meet with love and compassion, with kindness and embrace. If I am able to accomplish that, then I am spreading the energy of goodness to those around me, and contributing towards peace and love between people.

The second is our hope and task—to live in a world without bloodshed and war. And to live in a world without articles of war in our streets, without citizens who are filled with hate being able to purchase and use weapons of destruction in our houses of worship, or any public place. Join our fight against gun violence—to beat swords into plowshares, and join our mission to bring love and kindness towards our neighbor.

Together, through love and work, can we help to make this world a better, more safe place to live.

                                                                          – Rabbi Jonathan Aaron