Originally posted July 7, 2010
We are told that the churban Bayit Sheni, the destruction of the Second Temple, was as a result of sinat chinum. But what does this term mean? Most define it in the realm of the "cause", focusing on a negative cause for hatred -- which is then expanded by many individuals to include any reason for hatred. But is it true that there are no possible acceptable or even good reasons to hate? More significantly, though, is one actually able to control the emotional response of hatred?
A review of the sources that seem to be connected to the concept of sinat chinum actually brings someone into the general halachic discussion on hatred in general. And there the focus is not on the cause leading to the response of hatred but rather how one should deal with this emotion and what is the correct effect of hatred. In this light, the term sinat chinum may not really be describing anarchy in the causes of hatred but rather anarchy in the effects of hatred.
Further on this subject, I invite you to read a further discussion of this issue in Nishma Insight 5757-22,23: Defining Sinat Chinum on the Nishma website.
Rabbi Ben Hecht