Chassidic master Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk once referred to a certain rabbi as ah tzaddik in peltz — "a righteous person in a fur coat."
The Kotzker explained: When it is winter and it's freezing cold, there are two things one can do. One can build a fire, or one can wrap oneself in a fur coat. In both cases, the person is warm. But when one builds a fire, all who gather round will also be warmed. With the fur coat, the only one who is warmed is the one who wears the coat.
So it is regarding spiritual warmth — one can be a tzaddik in a fur coat....
Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polnoy, the famous disciple of the Ba’al Shem Tov in the eighteenth century, writes in his Toledot Yakov Yosef that when the Torah describes Noah as ‘walking with God,’ it is a pejorative description. Noah walked only and exclusively with God, tragically neglecting the wayward individuals all around him. Noah missed the opportunity of bringing God to humanity.
On the other hand, the Ketav Sofer, probably reacting to the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) and the Reform movement which threatened the Orthodox community during his lifetime (Pressburg, Hungary, late eighteenth and early nineteenth century), utilizes his biblical commentary to justify turning inwards. He argues that Noah was absolutely correct in maintaining the wall between himself and the world. After all, Noah had good reason to fear that if he went outside to battle the prevailing winds, his own children might be tossed to the edges – and even cast beyond the pale – by their strong impact. The risk just wasn’t worth it.
Parshat Noach: Outreach or Inreach; Family vs. World, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Bereishit: Confronting Life, Love and Family
חָמָס (n-m) heb
- violence, wrong, cruelty, injustice
Ḥarakah al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah (Islamic Resistance Movement)
what also emerges from our visit was that there was a belief inside the IDF that Hamas’s increasing professionalism would one day mean a harder struggle for the army, not that the terror group’s improved killing skills would continue to be primarily directed against civilians. Despite the suicide bombings, summer camps training young kids to kill, and the bloodthirsty rhetoric, there was, in our army, a failure to comprehend that Hamas simply wants to kill Jews, and that its evolution into an increasingly effective and disciplined fighting force would do nothing to make it any less savage. (This, of course, parallels the political and security leadership’s assessment that Hamas could and had been deterred, that it could be bought off with the permitted influxes of Qatari money, and that it was interested in governance rather than slaughter.)
Hamas is more dangerous, utterly inhumane: Israel must not underestimate it again, By DAVID HOROVITZ 17 October 2023
“The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular. In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. I know from experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his personality disturbs me and restricts my freedom. In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he’s too long over his dinner, another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
When loving humanity becomes a pretense for dehumanizing individuals, we are no longer fighting Evil; we are becoming it.
The abstraction called Humanity makes few real demands of us; individual human beings, by contrast, will try our patience relentlessly.
Left unchecked, social and political activism can create the kinds of ideological purity tests that serve to further isolate and divide.
The danger in using one’s commitment to social or political causes as a barometer for tolerance, love, mercy, or justness is that such commitments rarely require the selflessness that defines these virtues. This is especially true in the age of social media. As a friend has written, grandstanding on social media does not make you a good person, but there’s a real risk it can make you uncivil, intransigent, and insincere. When every post or exchange takes place before an audience, there are strong incentives to perform. The nature of online activism makes it easy to lose track of whether you are serving a cause or it’s serving your ego.
See: WHEN MISANTHROPES LOVE HUMANITY, January 10, 2023 Meagan Kohler, Public Square Magazine