I cut my teeth in the J-Blogosphere as a kanous-dika troll calling out a variety of oifgekelerta J-Bloggers, primarily the mega-popular DovBear , for a variety of heretical posts and comments, both real and imagined. While I sometimes veer off and take my eyes off the ball, anyone viewing my profile will see that my stated Raison d'être is to combat Qofrim.
One thing that unites a broad spectrum of Kanoim, both virtual and real, is the conviction that their indignation is righteous, their anger well-earned by those against whom it is directed and their thirst for vengeance as pure and spiritual as the holy fires that stoked it. Ours is not a personal war. It's all business. It's another page in the glorious history of kanous founded by Pinkhos who was not engaged in a personal vendetta but undertook to defend the honor of his Creator.
פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, הֵשִׁיב אֶת-חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת-קִנְאָתִי, בְּתוֹכָם
Pinkhos, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in his avenging my jealousy for My sake among them!
I have had some introspective misgivings about the spiritual-psychopathology of some particular instances of kanous in the past but recently I came across a gem of a Tosafos that has now given me pause about the entire enterprise.
Here's the background:
The Talmud in Tractate Pesakhim 113B says that G-d hates three kinds of people. Among others G-d hates a single witness who beheld another Jew committing a transgression/sexual indiscretion who comes forward to testify. Why is such a person hated by G-d? Because his testimony will accomplish nothing ( as two witnesses are the minimum in Halakhic jurisprudence) and all that he's done is sully another Jews reputation and transgressed the Mitzvah of לֹא-יָקוּם עֵד אֶחָד בְּאִישׁ, לְכָל-עָוֹן וּלְכָל-חַטָּאת, בְּכָל-חֵטְא, אֲשֶׁר יֶחֱטָא = One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he commits. This is Lashon Hara 101.
Nevertheless, the Talmud continues, it is Halakhically permissible for the lone witness to hate the sinner, as long as he keeps the reason for his hatred to himself and does not verbally share it with others. In fact, this is the only scenario where it is legally sanctioned for one INDIVIDUAL Jew to hate another and how the phrase "YOUR hated one/ enemy" crept into the Torah. (An unrepentant sinner whose crime was witnessed and reported by two or more witnesses may be hated by all of Israel, i.e. (s)he is a public enemy, as it were.)
The Talmud in Tractate Bava Metzee'ah 32B says that if one must choose between the two Mitzvos of helping ones friend unload a donkey or his (personal enemy) load a donkey the latter mitzva takes precedence. Why? Because it involves a greater suppression of "the inclination to evil." It is "harder" psychologically to help an enemy than a friend and the rule in prioritizing Mitzvos is to go for the one that is harder to accomplish first.
Here is the gem of a Tosafos (Pesakhim 113 B first one on the page שראה בו heading): Why would it be the Yetzer Hara / evil inclination that would be the "force" dissuading a person from helping an enemy? The Mitzva commanding us to help an "enemy" refers to a Jew that I hate because I , as a single witness, observed him committing a sin/crime. The law is on ones side to hate him! As such it must be the Yetzer Tov=inclination to GOOD whispering "hate that despicable sinner" in our ear. How then would helping the legally hated individual constitute a suppression of the Yetzer Hara?
Tosafos answers: It's true that the initial hatred the helper directs towards the enemy donkey owner is pure, good and Torah-sanctioned. However the reciprocal hatred that the donkey owner feels for the single witness who caught him in flagrante delicto , on account of the immutable rule governing human relationships כַּמַּיִם, הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים-- כֵּן לֵב-הָאָדָם, לָאָדָם =As in [a reflecting pools] waters, face answereth [i.e. reflects every move] to face, so the heart of man [resonds] to man, is neither pure, holy nor sanctioned by the Torah. It's just the way that human emotions operate. This sets a vicious cycle in motion in which the helper now begins hating the donkey owner in response to the donkey owners hatred and not merely on account of his original sin/crime. This, concludes Tosafos, snowballs into "complete hatred" i.e. hatred of the impure illegal kind, the product of the blandishments of the Yetzer haRa, which must be fought and suppressed in order to fulfill the Mitzva of helping ones personal enemy load his donkey.
In other words; every righteous hatred that a kanoi feels for a sinner or heretic snowballs into an admixture of holy and hideous hatred. I can see no difference in the psycho-dynamic that Tosafos describes between a public and private enemy. The sinner(s) begin(s) hating those lovers of G-d who hate him/her and they, in turn now begin adding layers of unsanctioned, re: evil, hatred upon their foundations of holy hatred.
This ought to give some pause to all Kanoim with a modicum of self-awareness. While it is essential that Kanoim not paralyze, muzzle or self-censor themselves before acting or speaking it is well within the spirit of רב פנחס בן יאיר'ס ladder of spiritual progress to make sure that their zehirus precedes and governs their zerizus/kanous. Kanoim really need to do some quantitative analysis about what percentage of their fiery hatred is pure and what percentage is mundane, unholy and evil in it's own right. While this should lead to fewer kanous-dika responses those that survive this internal audit ought to be more effective . Think surgical smart-bomb strikes instead of saturation carpet bombing. After all, as G-d's greater glory has nothing to do with those parts of our hatred motivations that are mundane, personal and a result of כַּמַּיִם, הַפָּנִים לַפָּנִים-- כֵּן לֵב-הָאָדָם, לָאָדָם . Why then should we expect any Siyata di'Shmaya to add efficacy to such efforts or for any Qiddush Shem Shomayim to ensue from them?
Just because the ignorant, misguided, evil, and/or heretical trample on havdolos bein Qodesh L'Khol is no excuse for Kanoim to erase havdolos bein ra l'tov uvein tamei l'tahor. Kanoim, keep your motivations as pure and unadulterated as humanly possible. Do NOT descend to the level of HaShems enemies.
Qedusha/ havdala. Have you had YOURS toiday??? Hmmm???
I would be much obliged to any of my erudite readers especially Midwest, Evanston Jew, Tzig and Not Brisk, along with, of course, the anonymous troll whom I've named Dayon U'Mokhiakh, if they'd be kind enough to cite any Baalei Mussar or Sifrei Khasidus/ Makhshava that speak on the Tosafos that I examined in this post. If I've committed an egregious misreading please comment and let me and the few other readers know about it ASAP.