A few days ago, a neighbor shared with one of my students that she was very sad because her daughters are arguing over the Covid vaccines. As a result, one of them, who opposes vaccination, won’t come to celebrate Rosh Hashanah [Jewish New Year’s Eve] with the family. What pained my student’s neighbor most was not her daughter’s objection to taking the shot, or even that she would not come to the festive meal. What really pained her was the hatred that erupted between her children. Disputes happen in all families, and so do spats, but the venomous burst of hatred devastated her.
Hatred is indeed the bane of our generation. It destroys everything and rips apart communities and families. Because of it, we need to work on our connections and conquer the hatred in order to keep our families and communities together.
We all have different views. The problem begins when different views expose deeper rifts that were hidden until now.
If a member of the family does not want to be vaccinated, as in this case, and therefore cannot attend a Rosh Hashanah meal, so as not to put others at risk, we should not hate that person.
We should approach disagreements not as reasons for hatred, but as opportunities for bonding. When we rise above differences and disputes, we strengthen our bonds and increase our love and unity even more than before the rift occurred. Our conscious effort to unite solidifies and strengthens our ties.
When we talk about conquering separation, we do not mean suppressing it as though it does not exist. Conquering separation means recognizing it, accepting it, and uniting above it nonetheless. That new unity, which had to be formed over division, will invariably be stronger than unity that has never been challenged.
Therefore, whenever division emerges, we should examine how much we value our connection with the person at odds with us. In the case that my student told me about, the mother’s pain evidently showed that she valued her connection with her daughters, and their connection with each other, more than she valued anyone’s opinion about Covid-19 vaccines. If she can pass her feelings to her daughters, they will be able to rise above their division and strengthen their ties. If not, their connection will break, to everyone’s regret.
Today’s society presents countless situations where we disagree with people. If we value our connections with them, we should treat them as opportunities to tighten our bond with them. If we do this, we can turn the bane of hatred into a boon of mutual love and closeness.