Hating Hate

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientific minds in history. He was also endowed with a broad philosophical outlook on the entirety of being, which propelled him to contemplate and ponder the sheer enigma and wonderment of existence, and articulate poetic statements about the underlying harmony and structure of the cosmos. Here are three of my favorites Einstein quotes (there are many others as well).

1. “The miracle of the world is its sheer comprehensibility.” By this Einstein meant to say that the way the human mind can analytically discern and break into coherent mathematical formulas the phenomena of the natural world is an amazing and mind-blowing thing.

2. “Not everything that counts can be counted.” Here Einstein reminds us that the core of life is immeasurable. You can measure how much money you’ll make if you bill your client for another hour of legal advice, but you cannot imagine the emotive dividends of spending another hour reading a book to your daughter before she goes to sleep.

3. When asked what makes him particularly proud to be a member of the Jewish people, Einstein spoke of our people’s insatiable love of learning (“the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake”), our people’s proactive and diligent approach to life (“the desire for personal independence”), and lastly – Einstein also expressed admiration and pride when it comes to the Jewish people’s moral sensibilities (our people’s “almost fanatical love of justice”).

Our people’s almost “fanatical love of justice,” as Einstein puts it, textually originates in the opening verses of our weekly Torah Portion Shoftim, in which the Torah categorically states: “Tzedek Tzedek tirdof,” which means: “Justice justice shall you relentlessly pursue.” Notice that the Torah reiterates the word “justice/tzedek” twice at the very beginning of this verse. Evidently, the repetition of the word “justice” is a stylistic preference and a powerful rhetorical ploy, but it also carries a very concrete and meaningful twofold message.

By repeating the word “justice” twice, the Torah is implying that there are two arenas, rather than just one arena, in which we must fight for justice. The first arena is the public arena of what philosopher Jorgen Habermas calls the “public sphere.” In the public arena, we fight for justice on the collective social and political level. The second appearance of the word “justice” in the verse implies fighting for justice also in our own private individual lives as well.

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