I have often heard the term Ahavat Chinam unwarranted love referenced as the antidote to sinat chinam unwarranted hate. What are the earliest sources for this (first) expression, particularly in the above context of solving unwarranted hate. The earliest I found was this from 1930.

Hint: I have heard this idea ascribed to R. Kook z"l, so that might be a good place to look.

  • Please see my updated answer - I've taken this as far as I can go. It's probably the Pele Yoetz quoting either a lost sefer or something akin to folk wisdom. Jul 28, 2015 at 15:38
  • And I just ran in a circle trying to trace down an acronym that ended up being the sefer Oros HaKodesh from R'Kook... More info here: he.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Jul 28, 2015 at 15:43
  • My Rebbe, based on a few Rishonim's explanation of sinas chinam, has said that the tikun for sinas chinam is not ahavas chinam, it's sina ke'halacha and ahava ke'halacha (not discounting idea's of lifnim mi'shuras ha'din). I am always shocked at big Rabbi's discussing ahavas chinam as this does not seem to be a Torah idea or ideal. Who we love and hate is supposed to be dictated by the Torah.
    – Gavriel
    Aug 2, 2017 at 18:35

2 Answers 2



Having finally traced down a searchable text of the [majority of the] Zohar, I can confidently say that it DOES NOT seem to reference the phrase "Ahavat Chinam" in Hebrew at all, and certainly not in contrast to "Sinat Chinam." [Though it may be in the few still-unavailable volumes in Devarim.] Thus, the earliest traceable reference to this issue is the Pele Yoetz's 1824 discussion of Ahavah being a tikkun for Sinas Chinam, in contrast to the Alshich's focus on eliminating jealousy as a cure of S"Ch. The Darash Moshe (1912 or earlier) seems to be the first to specifically refer to the concept of Ahavas Chinam.

I've traced it to a possuk in Yishayahu (52:3) where the medrash seems derived from. The Pele Yo'etz references this as well in "Sin'ah" and talks about Sinas Chinam and the tikkun of ahavah in general (and particularly for one's wife), pushing the earliest mention to 1824, but he does not use the explicit phrase of Ahavas Chinam. He identifies the source vaguely as RaZa"L, indicating that this concept either stems from a well known specific source of multiple origins (possibly lost to us) or well known "folk knowledge" - that it was a popular concept in circulation without specific attribution.

Oddly enough, the possuk in Yishayahu DOES come up in the gemara in Sanhedrin 97b, but it's interpreted differently there. This source from 1895 apparently places it in Zohar on Va'Eschanan, though it provides a different page number (267).

Multiple sources in the late 1800's hone in on the Sinas Chinam aspect, which they attribute to the Alshich, but state that the source is primarly economic jealousy, so they avoid the "Ahavas Chinam" route.

Here's another source from the Imrei Fi in 1930 as well. That two sources (one in Poland and the other in Isreal, no less) in the same year use a similar term implies it was in use earlier.

Here's one from Ma'agalei Tzedek (Munkatch) in 1884, but it's specifically in reference to Hashem rather than an antidote to Sinat Chinam.

Same with this Haggadah (Mareh Yechezkel) from 1894, whose original printing is from 1879.

The earliest source of the phrase I've found is 1838 from the Mata'ei Moshe, but again, this is reference to Ahavas Hashem.

The Darash Moshe in his Chidushei Aggados on Sanhedrin (in 1912, but since this is a compilation of sefarim it was probably written much earlier) brings down an interesting midrash that's related; "I sold them (Yisroel) for Free/Chinam" - because of Sinas Chinam, "And they will be redeemed for Free/Chinam" - that is when the Tzadikim love one another also freely.

I was able to trace this down to a Midrash Tanchumah in Devarim, but the exact text has to do with a discussion on Hashem "selling" Israel into golus, so it seems that the Darash Moshe is engaging in some form of poetic embellishment (possibly based upon the Pele Yoetz?), though he does reference the Zohar.

  • Where exactly in the Tanchuma are you refering to?
    – user6591
    Jul 28, 2015 at 0:49
  • @user6591 Devarim on Netzavim (which isn't on wikisource yet), specifically it's in 8.7, but it looks like it's just a reference to Isaiah 52:3. Need sources on that possuk... Jul 28, 2015 at 12:50
  • The closest to this sentiment I see there is at the end of ois Aleph. אין ישראל נגאלין עד שיהיו כלן אגודה אחת.
    – user6591
    Jul 28, 2015 at 13:13
  • But in the Buber edition, the end of אות ז׳ as well as the standard version אות ג׳ has the words ואתם לא נמכרתם בדמים but that Is a completely different discussion. Klal Yisroel said they were relieved of their duty to keep the Torah after Hashem sold us up the river, just like a sold slave who cannot eat Trumah any longer, to which Yechezkel responded we were not sold with money so we are still in His possession.
    – user6591
    Jul 28, 2015 at 13:20
  • So that would mean the rest of that line from the Darash Moshe was a poetic addition of lovely sentiment.
    – user6591
    Jul 28, 2015 at 13:22

As far as I know only the term שנאת חנם appears in this context until Rav Kook wrote:

אם נחרבנו, ונחרב העולם עמנו על ידי שנאת חנם, נשוב להבנות והעולם עמנו יבנה, על ידי אהבת חנם" (אורות הקודש ג שכד).‏

  • You mean אהבת חנם?
    – user6591
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:04
  • No, before Rav Kook, שנאת חנם, then he wrote...
    – JNF
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:19
  • Your language is a bit confusing. Are you saying that only S'Ch as a phrase existed until Rav Kook coined the countering phrase Ahavas Chinam in Oros HaKodesh? Jul 28, 2015 at 16:22
  • When was Oros written? was it pre-1930?
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 29, 2015 at 0:41
  • Written yes, published no.
    – JNF
    Jul 29, 2015 at 7:07

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