The Second Bais HaMikdash (the Second Temple) was destroyed through causeless hatred of one Jew to another1 and the Rebbe tells us the only way it will be rebuilt is through causeless love.2 In our generation, the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew) is critically important. It is impossible to understand the dynamics of this mitzvah without understanding some aspects of the Jewish psyche and the Jewish neshomah. To do this, we must first understand two basic opposites in Jewish personality.

Everything in creation has a positive side and a negative side. Jews have a Nefesh HaBahamis (an animal soul) and a Nefesh HoElokis (a G‑dly soul).&3 This is dealt with in detail elsewhere in this book. There is light and dark. There is kedushah (holiness) and there is kelipah (the absence of holiness).

In the human psyche, a person has a positive and negative side. The negative side of self-importance is yeshus (conceit, arrogance). Yeshus connotes boasting, feelings of exaggerated self-importance, perverse feelings of superiority and the like. Yeshus is kelipah.

The positive side of self-importance is self-esteem which connotes security in one’s own position, a real understanding of one’s abilities and one’s gifts from Hashem. True self-esteem is consistent with kedushah4.

At the other end of the spectrum is a person’s sense of his lack of self-importance. This too has a light and dark, a positive and a negative. The negative is feelings of inferiority and therefore depression5. This results in an ability to only see the bad and produces anxiety and forebodings of ill and of evil.

The positive side of lack of self-importance is bittul (humility) which connotes self-nullification; A healthy perception of one’s self, one’s yeshus, as unimportant.

The dynamics of the above distinctions are much misunderstood in contemporary society. Psychiatrists and marriage counselors flounder because of a lack of understanding of what we will learn together. Frequently, therapists advise clients to overcome their depression-related problems (a negative) by growing their yeshus, which is an equal negative. The goal should be to replace the negative with a positive. Replace their yeshus with bittul. Change, with training, the selfish for the selfless. Interestingly, selflessness is consistent with self-esteem, and confidence. Selfishness is consistent with anxiety and depression.

To understand this, we need to discuss the notion in Torah of space. Feelings of yeshus are directly related to space. There is a story of the Chosid who complained to his Rebbe that everyone in his shul was always treading on his toes. The Rebbe’s reply was to caution him on the size of his feet6.

If too much space is required, there is a result of being pinched.

How much space is one allowed? What is an appropriate amount of space? If too much space risks pinching, how much is too much space, how much is too little space?

The Rebbe Rashab7 explains8 that causeless hatred, mentioned before, is a result of this question of space. Everyone has experienced a newcomer into a meeting or social gathering previously interrelating comfortably. Upon his arrival, New Face takes over and does all the talking. He takes up too much room. Those present, robbed of their fair amount of space, resent New Face and the theft of their space. Dislike, even hatred, of New Face is born. Only later is it accorded reasons.

He is too fat; too gregarious; bad mannered; untidy whatever subjective reason each person is prepared to attribute to him. The more sophisticated a person is, the more sophisticated the reasons. But all of this is really a rationalization of the fact that New Face is committing larceny of his neighbors’ intellectual and emotional domains.

We accord each other different spaces in different times and places. For example, a lecturer, speaking to his audience, has the space to talk by common agreement, by consensus. But if he were to visit, for example, a dentist and sought the same space in the waiting room he took up in the lecture, people would correctly feel outraged. He may be entitled to that quantity of space in the lecture by common consent, but it is not the space to which he is entitled in the waiting room.

This concept of space is so important that it requires further embellishment. Sometimes, when people abdicate space by consent, they are jealous of the recipient’s undisturbed right to it. For example, at a concert, space is delegated to the musicians. If a member of the audience eats his chips too loudly or rolls his Jaffa’s down the aisle, people become upset. Why? Because this person is stealing the space delegated to the musicians.

The robbing of one another’s spaces is the fundamental root cause of all hatred. For this reason, it is critical to understand spaces correctly.

Back to yeshus and bittul. Self-esteem and being certain about being correct bears no relation to arrogance, boasting and false feelings of self-importance as we have said. It is a recognition of a fact. For example, if a person is seven foot six tall, he must recognize that he is taller than other people. He cannot describe himself even to himself as medium or average. He recognizes his height and he recognizes it as being beyond his control. It has to do with the partnership of his father, his mother and G‑d. There is a genetic biological reason perhaps influenced by environment. But clearly that reason is outside of his control. To boast about being seven foot six tall would therefore be stupid. Equally, there can be no false modesty about the fact. There is no investiture in being seven foot six tall of the person’s effort. There is a simple recognition of a fact of seven foot six tall.

If one person has a G‑d-given ability to play tennis, it is idiotic of him to imagine that he is in some way superior to somebody who has no ability to play tennis. The next person has different givens. A person who has certainty about his own gifts need have no false modesty about them nor a sense of importance because of them.

Moses, of whom the Torah says was the most humble man who ever lived, was certain of his credentials. Why? Because he knew his spiritual height9.

The terror of a Tzaddik (perfectly righteous man) is whether he is living out his potential as a Tzaddik properly. The question becomes is being seven foot six being utilized fully? It would be more logical for a seven foot six person to realize his potential and play basketball than to pretend that he is really three foot two and seek to be a midget in a circus. His mandate is to live out his potential with his G‑d-given gifts.

Moses recognized his gifts. His humility came from the all-consuming concern of whether those recognized gifts were being fully utilized in serving Hashem. This is the question of the humble. The greater the humility, the greater the terror of the question.

Conversely, a man may be, and know, he is five foot two and seek to convince others and himself that he is seven foot six. He knows he is only five foot two. Not only that, but he believes being seven foot six is a personal achievement. He tries to be unaware that he is five foot two and that it has nothing to do with his achievement. His job is to take his genetic fact and to make the best of being five foot two. There is no chance of him making the best of being seven foot six. This is not required of him. To make the best of being four foot two is equally absurd because his opportunities commence with being five foot two.

The story is told of a Rebbe and shamus (assistant) who were to be the guests of a town in Poland known to have contained many great scholars. Aware that this Rebbe was very learned, they prepared questions for him to answer. It happened that as they approached the town, the Rebbe noticed the shamus downcast. Upon inquiry, the shamus admitted to being jealous of the honor and compliments paid to his Rebbe. The Rebbe replied that after all he was the Rebbe and the shamus the shamus. [I am seven foot six, you are five foot two. Enjoy being five foot two and let me be and have the problems of being seven foot six.] Nevertheless, the shamus requested of the Rebbe to change clothes. He begged to be the Rebbe, just once, and the Rebbe to be the shamus. The Rebbe agreed. They changed clothes and, upon entry to the town, they were confronted with a welcoming committee. After normal formalities, it finally came time for learned questions. The most respected of the congregation cleared his throat and asked the shamus an extremely difficult question drawing on many aspects of Torah and Talmud. The shamus was of course devastated and listened with his mouth half open. Finally, he squeaked, “ That’s a question? That is so easy a question, I will put it to my shamus … ”.

Back to space.

People will clearly recognize that a man is seven foot six and have no problem with that. If a man is genuinely seven foot six, there are few people who want to make him five foot two. But people are very troubled by a five foot two person claiming that he is seven foot six because this robs them of some level of space of their common sense.

Consistent with certainty of a person’s givens and the humility of concern as to how they are exploited, is a corresponding lack of space. It is an extraordinary thing that the more secure (and therefore humble) a person is, the less space he requires. The less secure a person is (and in whom there is a large yeshus), the more need there is to present to the world a false picture of abilities. The more space a person requires of those around him, the more they are in pain. The more secure a person is and the more bittul he has in his own position, the less space he requires seven foot six or not his feet are not too big and his toes will be free from being trodden on.

The problem is that to climb the mountain of this book, we cannot seek to change others. The sweat of the climb is to effect self-change.

It is a great secret of Torah that the antidote to the pain inflictor is not to ask the offender to be content with less space but to require less oneself. This is a very deep requirement. There then is no awful person who is a space robber because there is no space to intrude upon.

The ability to take no space is bittul; bittul is kedushah. The ultimate example of kedushah was the luchos (tablets). Each tablet was some fifteen inches cubed in size. Yet they miraculously took no space in Holy of Holies in the Temple, being holiness by definition.

The conclusion suddenly becomes clear. In order to love a fellow Jew, there must be the opposite of hate. Hate comes from being cheated of space. If a person can diminish the space he himself requires, he will be subjected to less theft. Bittul allows for ahavas Yisrael because only then are the attempts to take space irrelevant.

In the absence of cause for hatred, there can be causeless love