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There is this famous statement (B"R 78:9): Esav Soneh l'Ya'akov.

Although the Tenach states Esav bore a grudge (Genesis 27:41) in his heart, and showed great animosity in wanting to kill Ya'akov, the word soneh isn't used.

But I still would like to know what it means when Esav soneh Ya'akov, because in the story of Yosef and his brothers it seems to mean despised (Genesis 37:4,5,8). And in the story of Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:31-33) it seems to mean something like abhor/revulsion or something likewise.

It seems to mean 'to feel intense dislike' for someone/something, more than it does mean 'to feel intense anger or hostility' towards someone/something.

So what does שׁנה שׂנא mean? how should one define such terms?

  • What's wrong with "hate/hatred" - it seems to be a good equivalent to שנא. Also, there's a Mitzvah of לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך. It is not clear what you're asking. – Al Berko Nov 1 '18 at 11:49
  • My guess: hate is a feeling (the opposite of love) that the object of the hate is not dignified, and that interacting with it will decrease the hater’s dignity. Hate’s effect on man: since a man is motivated by dignity, hate causes him to want no interaction with the object of hate. – hazoriz Nov 1 '18 at 12:02
  • It is the natural reaction when one was offended (halacha 6 here chabad.org/3302356 ) even if the offence was to one who is loved by the hater – hazoriz Nov 1 '18 at 12:04
  • sefaria.org/Pesachim.113b.6 – hazoriz Nov 1 '18 at 12:10
  • It seems that there are multiple "levels" o fmeaning depending on context. Leah was called a "hated" wife. It doesn't mean that Ya'akov wanted to harm her or didn't love her. It means just that she was less loved compared to Rachel. However, it seems that when the brothers "hated" Yosef, they actually wanted to kill him. So, I don't think there's a clear "fit all" answer. – DanF Nov 1 '18 at 18:22

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