The Torah tells us that when Yaakov was discussing with Leah and Rochel his desire to run away, he first tells them that he sees that their father’s disposition is not the same (31:5). He doesn’t first mention that Hashem told him explicitly to run away. The Chasam Sofer asks “Why is that Yaakov’s opening remark?” and he answers in a very surprising way. We are accustomed to “live and let live” and we consider “hate” to be a bad word. We applaud people who have no enemies, can tolerate things under all circumstances, and seemingly do not have any emotional negativity at all. Dovid Hamelech in Psalm (139:21-22) tells us that this is not necessarily what Hashem wants: “For indeed those who hate you, O Hashem, I hate them, and I quarrel with those who rise up against you. With the utmost hatred I hated them. They have become enemies to me.” Dovid Hamelech is saying that it is part of our obligation to have emotional negativity—to the point of hatred—for those who consider Hashem their enemy. This indeed sounds astounding.

Let us take a step back and think about someone whose parents were murdered in cold blood and you happen to meet this murderer. Would you think it is proper for you to go all out and be nice to him? Or should your relationship with him be affected by the fact that he murdered someone’s parents in cold blood? I think we could understand that not only is that emotion “human”, but also proper (what to do with that emotion is not the discussion of this piece).

Thus, our religious conviction is that it is appropriate to be enemies with those who are the enemies of Hashem. Aside from that, the Chasam Sofer says that at the precise moment when Yaakov Avinu realized what Lavan stood for, and his appreciation of Lavan’s evil reached its zenith, Lavan too felt to what degree he was at odds with Yaakov. It was at this point, when Yaakov reached a new level of closeness to Hashem by having these “negative” feelings towards Lavan, that Hashem revealed Himself to Yaakov through prophecy. Yaakov was told that it was time to return home.

As the story unfolds, the exact opposite of what one would have thought is what actually transpired. The clash between enemies rises and yet battle—or G-d forbid bloodshed—is averted. In a sense, we learn from this Chasam Sofer that “strong fences make good neighbors.” We must learn how to react to adversaries from the Torah—just like everything else in life.

In our lives, too, many situations arise in which we see people “attacking Hashem.” We are obligated to have a negative emotional feeling against these people. This doesn’t mean that we have to act on those feelings. But we must strive to feel Hashem’s hurt when people are desecrating His world.