Monday, June 26, 2006

What's Jewish Law got to do with it? Qassams, Kidnappings and the War on Terror

The State of Israel has never had a shortage of political leaders with significant military experience and expertise (Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Bibi Netanyahu, Yitzchak Rabin...), and yet, all of this military expertise has not been able to stop the daily barrage of Qassam rockets into the Jewish State over the last 5 years (as part of the greater "Palestinian" war of destruction against the Jewish State), and it was not able to prevent yesterday's kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, in an attack led by Hamas, which also killed two Israeli soldiers.

One can only wonder how the situation might be different if only our "enlightened leaders" would have put aside their real politic considerations, and actually showed an interest in their Jewish heritage, they might have discovered that Jewish law has a very clear and relevant solution as to how to stop the Qassam rocket fire; a solution that would have prevented the unnecessary deaths of two young soldiers, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

What is this magical solution, you ask?

We can find the answer brought down in the Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law (Orach Chaim: 329, 6,7):

סימן שכט: על מי מחללין שבת

סעיף ו

עכו"ם שצרו על עיירות ישראל, אם באו על עסק ממון אין מחללין עליהם את השבת; באו על עסקי נפשות, ואפי' סתם, יוצאים עליהם בכלי זיין ומחללין עליהם את השבת; ובעיר הסמוכה לספר, אפילו לא באו אלא על עסקי תבן וקש מחללין עליהם את השבת. הגה: ואפילו לא באו עדיין אלא רוצים לבא - אור זרוע

סעיף ז

יש מי שאומר שבזמן הזה אפי' באו על עסקי ממון מחללין, שאם לא יניחנו ישראל לשלול ולבוז ממונו יהרגנו, והוי עסקי נפשות

Laws of when violating the Sabbath is Permitted:

Section 6:

Non-Jews who are oppressing a city within the borders of Israel, if they come over matters of money (to steal), we do not violate the Sabbath and mobilize against them. If they come over matters of life and death (to harm / kill Jews), we are obligated to violate the Sabbath and mobilize in order to defeat the attackers.

However, if the oppressed city is along the border, then, even if these enemies are only coming to steal a piece of grain, we are obligated to violate the Sabbath in order to mobilize and defeat the attackers. This is the case even if our enemies haven't attacked yet, but it is known that they are planning to attack - the Sabbath can be violated and the Jews can mobilize against their attackers.

Section 7:

There are those that say, that in our times, even if attackers come to steal (money) from a city within the borders of Israel, the Sabbath is to be violated and the Jews are to mobilize against their attackers, because if the Jews don't defend their property - this will ultimately embolden the attackers to murder Jews, as well.

If only the government of the State of Israel would have acted in accordance with Jewish Law in response to the very first Qassam rockets fired into the Jewish communities along the border of Israel - communities such as Sderot - the Jewish State would not have been forced to endure 5 years of daily missile barrages.

Furthermore, it is very likely, should our "enlightened leaders" have acted in accordance with Jewish Law on this matter, that our enemies would have never had the audacity to attempt such an attack as the one that resulted in the deaths of two of our soldiers and led to the abduction of a third. as they would have known that even the smallest of attacks against the Jewish State - particularly along the border, would be met with an overwhelming response.

There can be no doubt that Jewish Law can provide relevant solutions to many of the challenges facing the Jewish State. If only the "esteemed leaders" of the Jewish State would be open to learning the wisdom of their heritage.


So Ze'ev,

You are saying that Tzahal should be mehalel shabbos. Well I reaslised you wouldn't be very up to date with Tzahal's practice having never served, but I can safely inform you that your wish has certainly already been realised - tzahal is pretty much a den of hillul shabbos.

As far as I could tell, nothing of relevance was contained within what you quoted from Shulhan Aruch - we know we can mehallel shabbat. What we don't know is how to protect ourselves if the settlement movement won't let us put up a border.


By Anonymous H, at Tue Jun 27, 10:36:00 AM GMT+3  

Haim, I apologize. I should have been more clear as to the nuance of this particular piece of (Rabbinic) Jewish law - as you are not familiar with it - since you do not recognize the validity of rabbinic authority / Oral Law.

What this halachah is teaching us is that should a Jewish community along the border come under attack from our enemies - even over something as small as a piece of grain, we are obligated to violate the Sabbath to fight our enemies - b/c the Halachah views such attacks as endagering the lives not only of the residents of the border towns, but the State itself.

And Haim, last I checked, we aren't in Gaza anymore, there is a fence / border, and the missles come over it, and the terrrorists go under it. Briliant!

Any other bright ideas short of actually fighting the terrorists?

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Jun 27, 10:51:00 AM GMT+3  

A Response to the Halakhic Ruling Against the Return of Territory
by Prof. Tzvi Groner

The halakhic ruling recently issued, entitled, “The word of G-d - the Halakhah on the Matter of Preservation of Life, by Rabbis of Israel,” is actually a political declaration masquerading as a halakhic ruling, which forbids the return of territories for the sake of peace, even if the and when the government orders such. The situation referred to in the ruling is that the legitimately-elected government of the State of Israel declares that, in the framework of a peace process being carried out with our neighbors and with the Palestinians, it is willing to return territories in exchange for peace; in this way, claims the government, less people will be killed, both in future wars and by terrorist attacks, both in the short term and in the long term, and that this is its main goal.

The “ruling” is based on the words of the Shulkhan Arukh Orach Chaim 329,6, which are themselves based on the Talmudic passage in Tr. Eruvin 45a. The passage deals with a case of Gentiles who are attacking Jewish towns. The Talmud determines that in the case of a border town, it is permitted to desecrate the Sabbath in order to defend it, even if they are coming merely to steal “hay and straw;” for we fear that otherwise they will capture the town, from where it will be easy for them to then capture the rest of the Land (according to Rashi and the other commentators.) This passage does not deal with the return of territories, but rather with a dispensation to violate the Sabbath even in the face of doubtful future endangement to life. In such a case, because it is a border town, it is permitted to violate the Sabbath in order that a possible danger to life not arise in the future; in a non-border town, the Gentiles’ seizing of property would not be sufficient cause to justify Sabbath-desecration.

The above has nothing whatsoever to do with the return of territories for the sake of peace. Concerning the question of evacuation of an area for purposes of peace, the authorized leaders of the town - negotiating with those who are agreeing to make peace, and not with “enemy Gentiles who are attacking” - are of the opinion that our voluntary relinquishing of the area will prevent future deaths (the “preservation of life” argument), as well as the desecration of G-d’s Name in the world. They feel that there is no fear that the relinquished areas will be used as a springboard for an attack on the entire Land. Therefore, this is not a case of “enemies who are coming merely for hay and straw.” For even in the above Talmudic case, the dispensation to violate the Sabbath is only to decrease the chances of life endangerment; but to to do an act that will increase the risk, or to refrain from doing something that will decrease the risk, is certainly forbidden.

In the above “ruling,” there is a purposeful twisting of the term “matters of hay and straw(!)” In keeping with their political views, they explain it as being akin to the claim of the Gentiles that they want peace and not territories. But this is not so. The Gentiles in the Talmudic case claim explicitly that they want to unlawfully take property, and they do not claim to want peace, and therefore we fear that there may be a danger to life in the future. The real question is, “Does the halakhah permit the ceding of territories for peace?”

At worse, the return of territories may be considered a violation of the injunction, lo techanem - “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, and show them no kindness” (Deut. 7,2). But this prohibition, as all others in the Torah, is “pushed aside” in face of danger to life. This point is uncontested. The definition of danger to life is not a halakhic one, but is rather given over to experts. This is similar to one who is ill on Sabbath or Yom Kippur; the determination as to whether he is permitted to violate the Sabbath (or to eat on Yom Kippur) is made by the expert, namely, the doctor. Similarly in this case: the experts must decide, and they are none other than the legitimately-elected government. Only the government is in possession of the most recent intelligence evaluations, the estimates of the dangers of war and continued terror attacks if peace is not attained, the detailed agreements reached with our former enemies - who today are our partners in peace - and the international evaluations of what it is likely to occur in this region if peace does not succeed. If the experts of the government decide that the danger to life from another war and continued terror attacks is greater than the dangers incurred in making peace, than the halakhah determines that the experts must be listened to. If we do not act in accordance with the experts, and a catastrophe occurs, this is murder. The other path, which is likely to endanger lives, has no halakhic basis. The halakhah in this case is straightforward, according to accepted halakhic principles, and so ruled the leading rabbis of our time.

By Blogger Ittay, at Sun Jan 13, 09:12:00 AM GMT+2  

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