There are certain (specific) cases where it is correct or even a mitzvah to hate someone else. [See The following sources: Tehillim 97:10 and 139:21, Amos 5:15, Mishlei 8:13, Pesachim 113b, Sefer HaMitzvos HaGadol Mitzvas Asei 9, Sefer Yereim Mitzvah 224.]

My question is: In cases that a Jew is obligated to hate a person, is there any room to also love him or have compassion for him?

Also, is there any episode, specifically in Tanach, where the Jewish people went to war against another people and nevertheless we find that they were (correctly) empathetic or felt love or compassion for the enemy?

Edit: We do find that Moshe Rabeinu did not lead the war against Midyan because he had hakoras hatov for living there (Medresh Tanchuma). I always thought this was incredible. One person/family in Midyan (Yisro) who was ostracized and excommunicated by the other citizens hosted him for a while (and to begin with it was not li'shem shamayim since Yisro was trying to find someone to marry his daughter and no one else was willing to because of the excommunication) and Moshe will not lead the war against other people who caused thousands of the Jewish people to die and sin. Wow! The implications of this hakoras hatov for us are hard to understand (in my mind).

  • ויצבאו על מדין...
    – Double AA
    Jul 21, 2015 at 17:24
  • I meant the way they waged the battle leaving open the fourth direction for fleeing.
    – Double AA
    Jul 21, 2015 at 17:37
  • Sometimes, it's hard to tell what they may have felt during the actual war. E.g. - All the tribes went to war against Binyamin (end of book of Shoftim). They tried hard to avoid the war in the 1st place, and afterwards, they had tremendous guilt about almost destroying them.
    – DanF
    Jul 21, 2015 at 17:48
  • I think it is a false dichotomy to say one cannot love someone or feel compassion for them while completely hating them, since those emotions are not strictly opposite. I recall that there is a case to be made that Avraham both loved and hated Yishma'el simultaneously, but I can't think of sources off the top of my head. (Note, though, that there are places in the Torah that specifically indicate that one should not have compassion for someone, e.g. a meisis).
    – Fred
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:03
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/31452/…
    – SAH
    Dec 15, 2015 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


The following is a quote from Michtov Me'Eliyahu chelek 5 page 70. (I've replaced some of the words 'he' with 'you' in the last paragraph to avoid confusion.

Even concerning a person who one is allowed to hate, a person whom one should stay away from (for example he is a known Avaryan), be careful not to come to actual complete hatred, as brought in Tosafos Pesachim 113b s.v. Shera'ah.

Because even if you hate him completely Lishem Shomayim without any bad mida, this person will see your hatred of him, whatever the reasoning may be, and this person will then return the feelings of hatred, as it is written in Mishlei 27 19 'as water reflects a face back to a face, so one's heart is reflected back to him by another'. Due to this, you too will mix into the hatred some personal hatred that is not completely Lishem Shomayim, and this will be the complete hatred mentioned in Tosafos.

  • I seem to recall that the reason given by Tosafos was that (based on the verse in Mishlei you cited) third parties may sense and mirror your hatred of the person, even though you are the only one who has halachic justification to hate him (because you alone observed him sinning and, presumably, he was dismissive of your entreaties that he mend his ways). It could be that the tempered hatred approach does not apply to a wicked non-Jew or to a Jew who is well established to be wicked (e.g. as in T'hillim 139:21-22 cited in the OP). Anyway, +1.
    – Fred
    Jul 21, 2015 at 18:58
  • These are Tosafos' words וי''ל כיון שהוא שונאו גם חבירו שונא אותו דכתיב (משלי כז) כמים הפנים לפנים כן לב האדם לאדם ובאין מתוך כך. לידי שנאה גמורה ושייך כפיית יצר. I guess you can also read it the way you are suggesting.
    – user6591
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:21
  • Also, concerning your other remark, do we find a difference in levels of hatred allowed when dealing with different levels of people one may hate? Because Tosafos is seemingly dealing with a person who is allowed to be hated on the entry level, and Rabbi Dessler escalated those comments to be dealing with an Avaryan. If there is not different levels of hatred its not problematic, but if there is, then it would need a good answer.
    – user6591
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:21
  • Regarding different levels w.r.t. hatred, this might be implied in Chafetz Chayim (B'eir Mayim Chayim, Hil. Lashon Hara' 8:10, which suggests a stronger hatred than the standard case of an avaryan; see also Hil. Lashon Hara' 4:3-7, 8:4-8, as well as some scattered halachos in ch. 7 and 10).
    – Fred
    Jul 21, 2015 at 19:43

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