Exploring the legacy of the rationalist medieval Torah scholars, and various other notes, by Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin
One of the things that is profoundly wrong with the world today, is that too many people are avenging too many people's blood. Avengers have long memories, and vengeance seeks redress for the sins of dozens of previous generations. But that vengeance causes others to seek vengeance, for ever and ever.In the Torah, HaShem tells us exactly where vengeance is acceptable or even required. Where we do not have HaShem's immediate word, perhaps we should try to find other options that can lead to a better world. I have no idea what those options might be, but I fear the "curative" power of vengeance. - Tobias D. Robison
Its people like you and attitudes such as yours that cause US JEWS TRAGEDIES. Instead of dealing with our enemies, you actually allow and promote more Jews being murdered. WE MUST destroy evil before it destroys and/or severely damages us. Revenge is a beautiful and G-DLY action. Its a Commandment. Ssvi
"May Hashem help the IDF avenge their blood." Amen.במדבר לגנ וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב, עַל-יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ, לֵאמֹר. נא דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם: כִּי אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן, אֶל-אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן. נב וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם, וְאִבַּדְתֶּם, אֵת כָּל-מַשְׂכִּיֹּתָם; וְאֵת כָּל-צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם תְּאַבֵּדוּ, וְאֵת כָּל-בָּמוֹתָם תַּשְׁמִידוּ. נג וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ: כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ.נג וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וִישַׁבְתֶּם-בָּהּ: כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָהּ. נד וְהִתְנַחַלְתֶּם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ בְּגוֹרָל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיכֶם, לָרַב תַּרְבּוּ אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ וְלַמְעַט תַּמְעִיט אֶת-נַחֲלָתוֹ--אֶל אֲשֶׁר-יֵצֵא לוֹ שָׁמָּה הַגּוֹרָל, לוֹ יִהְיֶה: לְמַטּוֹת אֲבֹתֵיכֶם, תִּתְנֶחָלוּ. נה וְאִם-לֹא תוֹרִישׁוּ אֶת-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, מִפְּנֵיכֶם--וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר תּוֹתִירוּ מֵהֶם, לְשִׂכִּים בְּעֵינֵיכֶם וְלִצְנִינִם בְּצִדֵּיכֶם; וְצָרְרוּ אֶתְכֶם--עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ. נו וְהָיָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּמִּיתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם--אֶעֱשֶׂה לָכֶם. Numbers 33 50 And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying: 51 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places. And you shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell in it; for to you have I given the land to possess it. 53 And you shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell within it; for to you have I given the land to possess it. 54 And ye shall inherit the land by lot according to your families--to the more you shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer you shall give the less inheritance; wheresoever the lot fall to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye inherit. 55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you dwell. 56 And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do to you. Ssvi
Very sad indeed.>May Hashem help the IDF avenge their blood.<Please stop mentioning Hashem. He didn't help save them, or anyone else. He is as powerless as the idols that are ridiculed in Tehillim as having ears but not being able to hear. When did He ever save us from anything?Send the IDF, and forget about Hashem.
Their are countless examples that were not even aware of that Has hem saves is. Over 90% of attacks are foiled. + this isn't Has hems fault. Its the Arab society + the Jewish society and gov that doesn't follow Has hem and throw them out at the very least. G-d warns is over and over again in the Torah and the consequences ad well. Ssvi.
From the reconstruction of the events, it seems the bochurim were killed even before anyone knew that they were supposed to pray for them. What were our prayers supposed to do at that point?
Not much more to add to this...AMEN!
Impossible to express the grief we are all experience.When I saw the news in big letters on the "Times of Israel" website it was like a blow to the stomach.However, the security forces almost always eventually get their man. It is now for us to support those who are now on the trail of those terrorists.
And when the security forces get their men, Bibi (or some other prime minister 3 years from now) will probably release them in exchange for a kidnapped soldier, or maybe just a dead body of a soldier, or as in some cases, maybe just dead body parts of a long-ago-murdered soldier, or as in the most recent case, release them as a way to entice a terror chief to a farcical negotiating table. There is no justice in our world thanks to the Israeli regime. None.
Student V: This cynicism, like most, is founded on naivete, IMO. Justice has never been, and will never be, perfect, as long as it is administered by human beings. But if you think that we have less justice in the world today than in the past, you need to study the past. To take one simple example, it is not longer allowed, speaking generally, for one political entity to go conquer another one and take their people as slaves and to steal their property. If you think that the Israel regime ranks high on the list of unjust regimes, then again, I suggest that you study some history or study it in a more unbiased fashion.IMO
I didn't say justice could be perfect but that there could at least be some justice doled out by humans. Your insulting remark doesn't address the content of my comment. I am not saying what I said based on "cynicism" (however naive you believe it to be), I'm saying it based on past experience. There is clear historical precedent to what I suggested. So how can it be naive to cite historical precedent with very recent well-known examples? Unless you live under a rock, you know that. So it's very disingenuous of you to accuse me of naive cynicism by bringing up those points.You conflate two different concepts. There are limitations to human beings, so justice may not be perfect. Yes. For example, although they try they may fail to find the culprits. They may fail to punish them appropriately (deserve execution or life in jail). But then there is another category: The deliberate and nefarious perversion of justice by politicians who simply do not care about justice or about the victims of these crimes. You in your vast naivete assume them to have the purest of intentions and therefore you see the perpetrators of the injustice and the disrespect as victims of their own humanity. What a disgusting point of view you have expressed.
It was this remark I think that I claimed was cynical and IMO, naive: There is no justice in our world thanks to the Israeli regime. None. You have to admit that it appears to be a pretty cynical remark. Perhaps I took your hyperbole too seriously.As to your examples, I was not contesting that prisoner releases will not occur in the future. I was contesting your interpretation of what past and future prisoner releases mean for justice in the world.But then there is another category: The deliberate and nefarious perversion of justice by politicians who simply do not care about justice or about the victims of these crimes.You might not agree with the way that Gilad Shalit was finally brought home, but your claims that this is a result of not caring about justice are without foundation.You in your vast naivete assume them to have the purest of intentions and therefore you see the perpetrators of the injustice and the disrespect as victims of their own humanity.No, I understand perfectly well that politicians are mainly motivated by their desire to acquire and keep power. What is naive is think that it has not always been that way and that the politicians that you deal with are somehow worse than the rest because you disagree with them. In fact, they are better than the vast majority over time, because they are elected, and have at least some accountability to the electorate. And as human beings, they do undoubtedly have concern for the victims of violence.Maybe I can restate your thesis without the hyperbole: "I think that, on balance, prisoner releases cost more than they gain. I hope to convince enough people of this fact so that elected officials will avoid doing that in the future. In particular, I fear that the killers, if caught, may be released on the future".
Student V: Here is an exposition of what I think is your position:Link from google news to avoid paywallPaywall version
Very sad news. But I'm not shaking with rage and thirst for vengeance.It's as the propert said. Ami lo hisbonen. Hysteria and anger then to premature punitive action.
Vengeance and blood. Brought to you by the hysterical irrationalists at rationaljudaism.com
I could really do without the 'avenge' phrase.i know we say it in the hebrew but it's still a horrible sentiment and not appropriate.
While i personally agree with the "nekamah" philosophy, why don't we / the rosh haMemshalah's ( = prime minister's office use terminology like "preventative measures"?MiMedinat HaYam
To all of you who have problems with "vengeance" I recommend looking at the Psalm of the day for Yor Revi'i (Wednesday) where at the very beginning it says "Kel nekamot Hashem" which referrs G-d to being a G-d of vengeance. Justice means having the state and official bodies bring wrongdoers to account for their crimes in the here and now, but not vigilante action. We are not Quakers who claim that justice can only left to heaven and thus they helped Nazi war crminals to escape thinkiing it wrong to bring them to justice. That is a real perversion of religion.
Lashing out without a strategy is the action of a frustrated toddler. At least Anonymous of Number 23 has a strategy, even if it is ethnic cleansing bordering on genocide. It is hypocritical, racist and frankly pathetic to confront and shoot rioting Palestinian civilian children because they kidnapped and killed our own civilian children. It is pathetic to blow up empty buildings in a magnificent show of frustrated impotence. It is pathetic to threaten "new punishments that Satan has yet to dream of" (thanks Bibi). All these let the terrorists win.There is a plan. There is a hope. We must act like menschen and carry on, impose human limited justice (the rule of Law) and leave absolute divine justice to God who weaves history from the lives of man.Li nakam veshilem.
Y. Ben-David: The word vengeance has a meaning in English. What you are asking for is justice, not vengeance, in English.Ssvi: You can't pasken political or military strategy from the pesukim. The Roman-Jewish wars did not go well for us. All factors must be considered.I would pray that our leaders are given the wisdom to take the appropriate measures and that they are successful.Finally, while the end result is still horrible in absolute terms, we can thank God that the IDF/Shin Bet were successful in finding their bodies and enabling the families to come to a closure. Some of the alternatives are painful to imagine.
So the lessons of tannach mean nothing to you? Look the what is okay? Go check the rambam as well in hilchot melachim umilhamot. I can post as well maybe later. Its clear halacha with no disputes. Ssvi
If I may permit myself to imagine the reponse: we don't pasken like the Rambam, we pasken like the SA who doesn't say anything so we err, I don't know what we do, but definitely not what the Rambam says. I know! Maybe we can give away more land and release some more terrorists. Third times the charm, You are extreme, times have changed in some unspecified way that renders 75% of the Torah a dead letter blah blah blah.
You are taking an idealist, mystical approach. Forget practicality and realism, just pasken the next action, follow it and live with the results and you have done what is right. This similar to the approach of Charedim: learning is most important, so do that, and the rest will just work itself out.I'm taking a realist approach. You want Jews living on the land with sovereignty and freedom as peacefully as possible. That is the lesson I get from the Torah. Find out the best way to do that. The Pesukim can't tell you and the Rambam can't tell you; you have to use the brain that God gave you.
The Talmud points out that we know that shefichat damim is yehoreg v'al yaavor not from exegesis from religious sources but from common sense - why is your blood redder than your neighbours? It follows that in all matters of life and death common sense should be your overarching guide.
That would be a convincing argument if not for the following considerations:1) The peace process is a manifest failure. And, apparently, you are the only person left on the planet who cannot see this.2) Your argument applies equally to any area of Jewish law. You find a lesson from the Torah, you use your brain to work out how best to fulfill that lesson, you ignore halacha. (Then if desired to you can mock and ridicule people who do not ignore halacha). We know where this goes.In brief, the Torah is wise, and we would be wise to follow it. We would not be wise to base our actions on a shopping list of cliches rolled out to justify the same policy that has failed time and time and time again.
That would be a convincing argument if not for the following considerations:1) The peace process is a manifest failure. And, apparently, you are the only person left on the planet who cannot see this.Your are getting far afield of the argument here. Ssvi implies, based on the Pesukim, that we should bulldoze the Har Habayit and take the West Bank inhabitants as slaves or worse. We don't agree on what steps the Israel should take in practical terms, but that doesn't have anything to do with Ssvi's argument, so I don't want to rehash it here.2) Your argument applies equally to any area of Jewish law. You find a lesson from the Torah, you use your brain to work out how best to fulfill that lesson, you ignore halacha. (Then if desired to you can mock and ridicule people who do not ignore halacha). We know where this goes.I'm surprised to hear you say that since your position is (as best I can understand) that you can ignore the Bavli in halachah based on your own lights. Which is an argument pro or con, but in general you take my principle much farther than I would, so I'm not sure what your problem is here.But in any case, what I'm saying is that I don't think that these kinds of political/military decision are within the scope of halachah, just like medical decisions are not within its scope. The principles and desiderata are given, and some limits on moral action, but the specifics have to be worked out based on the situation. I believe that the Rav held similarly based on what I have read and heard, so I don't think that this is particularly radical (to the degree that the Rav was not radical, I suppose).In brief, the Torah is wise, and we would be wise to follow it. We would not be wise to base our actions on a shopping list of cliches rolled out to justify the same policy that has failed time and time and time again.I think that there large open field between trying to pasken geo-political strategy from pesukim and a "shopping list of cliches" which respects the wisdom of the Torah. Part of the wisdom of the Torah is the people are given free will and need to exercise it.
'Justify the same policy which has failed time and time again' - like badly thought through demi wars without clear military objectives (Lebanon 1 & 2; Gaza 1 and 2)?There are only two strategies for ending this mess - genocidal ethnic cleansing of which we have come too far as a civilisation and not far enough as a world hegemony to indulge in; or a peace settlement imposed unilaterally. The Torah does not prescribe clearly the legitimacies associated with the secular government, and I would always err on the side of humanity and common sense; but as always people will pick the law to suit the ideology...
"Avenging" will not help anyone. Let's do something constructive to make sure it never happens again (honestly, no idea what that could be, but definitely not "vengeance").
correct random vengeance only creates more terrorists since now they must avenge also
The terrorists aren't motivated by avenging something though. This is a failure to understand our enemy.
The best way to understand your enemy is to understand yourself. You want to vote for your own leaders, not to face random politically motivated violence, not have a foreign military occupying your area, and not to be judged by extreme misfits who believe without any evidence that every problem can be solved by the application of enough suffering to the other side. So do they.
The terrorists aren't motivated by avenging something though.Everyone is so motivated and thus motivated to support the terrorists on their side, whatever the terrorists' motivation is.
The best way to understand your enemy is to understand yourself. You want to vote for your own leaders, not to face random politically motivated violence, not have a foreign military occupying your area, and not to be judged by extreme misfits who believe without any evidence that every problem can be solved by the application of enough suffering to the other side. So do they.Moniker, while I largely agree with your sentiment, this can be taken too far. There are some clear differences. The most important is probably that we've settled on the fact that we're not going back to Europe or the Muslim countries that we recently escaped from. The Palestinians still demand the right of return and have generations of refugees going on 70 years now. People on the left sometimes forget this and think if all they want is sovereignty since that is all we (or most of us) want.Likewise, there are significant religious factions among the Palestinians that cannot accept Israel's existence. Hence Hamas's refusal to just say that they would respect the prior agreements between the PA and Israel when they won the elections. Instead they isolated themselves from the rest of the world. This is true in Israel as well, and these groups can tip the ruling coalition one way or the other, but the influence, so far among the Palestinians is higher.These tendencies are not carved in stone, but they need to be understood and dealt with.Finally, the assumption is not always correct in general. The western powers convinced themselves many times that all Hitler wanted to do was bring ethnic Germans back in to Germany, because they could not imagine him simply wanting to conquer Europe. And "their" leaders don't always do what 'they" want.
I generally agree with what you say but I find reductio at Hitlerium to be a shallow debate.
I generally agree with what you say but I find reductio at Hitlerium to be a shallow debate.I hesitated to bring the example for the reason that you mentioned, but I assume that you understand that this was not a "X = Hitler" kind of argument. I'm sure that a historian could bring other examples.
this is where calls for revenve take us. http://m.ynet.co.il/Article.aspx?id=4536873
It takes us to media spin and BS? All the violence shown in the pictures is by police onto protesters! Especially love the picture of several border police holding back that dangerous girl in denim skirt before she really hurts someone!
You gonna take this post down now?
As someone who has otherwise gotten a tremendous amount out of this blog and identify with its goals, I must say that I am extremely disappointed that R. Slifkin encouraged the IDF to "avenge their blood." This is written in English, not in Hebrew, so exegesis regarding נקמה is irrelevant. I read Mr. Ohsie as trying to shift the framing to one of justice. Great, but do you agree with what R. Slifkin wrote? Whether or not vengeance is what *Judaism* demands right now is questionable enough that the statement needs justification. And it certainly is hard to square with *rationalism.* I understand that R. Slifkin is traveling right now and might not even have web access, but I hope that when he is back online, he will address this issue thoughtfully and be willing to consider that this was a significant mistake. And I'd like to hear a forthright reply from Mr. Ohsie in the interim. Do you think a call to "avenge their blood" is consistent with "rationalist Judaism"?
Is my comment being censored? Why? That would also seem to contradict what this blog stands for (cf. R. Slifkin's many complaints about his being censored on CrossCurrents)
EWZS, the comments on this blog is moderated. I believe that Rabbi Slifkin's policy it to let in almost all comments. Look at his latest posts: he is hosting a trip to Africa and his computer is not working properly. You needed to wait until he is online with a computer to let your comment in.With regard to your question to me above, it is ill-formed. While R. Slifkin has very kindly allowed me to post here, his opinions are his and mine are mine, so if you object to the post, my opinion is quite irrelevant. That said, please read my comments here; you'll find that in this forum, due to errors of parallax, I am considered a left-winger.
David: Thanks for your response. Let me rephrase my question: I'm curious whether you personally endorse the call to "avenge their blood"? I ask because I appreciate your point of view, and because you seem to be a compatriot of his in promoting "rationalist Judaism," a cause which I support. I was disturbed by the language R. Slifkin chose. Were you? p.s. I only posted my second comment because it took a long time for the first one to be approved. It was my only way to communicate with the moderator, whom I assumed was acting as R. Slifkin's agent. It wasn't meant to be published.
This is just my opinion, but I think that R. Slifkin was trying to be careful by referencing God and the IDF. Y. Ben David is right in that this a translation of what we say almost every Shabbat (sans the reference to the IDF). However, since in English the meaning is perhaps obscured and given the current climate and what appears to be the rather horrific vengeful reaction to the murders (after the post), I probably would not have posted the same graphic.R. Slifkin, AFAIK, does his own moderating on all posts.
Thanks for sharing your opinion, David. I tend to share it. I hope that, especially in light of the horrible hillul hashem constituted by the murder of Mohammed Abu Khbeir and in the context of the controversy surrounding the statement by R. Perel of Bnai Akiva, that R.Slifkin will address this issue when he is next able.
Israel needs smart focused vengeance. Some say vengeance means Israel should kill Palestinians whether innocent or guilty in retaliation for what Palestinians did to the 3 Israelis. I disagree, because killing innocent people just for their nationality is totally immoral. The 3 Israeli teenagers were not killed for anything they did; they were killed because they were Israeli. If Israel behaves in a similar fashion by killing Palestinians just because they are Palestinians, how is Israel better than Fattah or Hamas? It also leads to a never ending cycle of vengeance.Instead, Israel needs focused vengeance. In my opinion, this should consist of 3 things:1) Punishment of the Guilty. Israel has released the names of 2 suspects; Israel should find them and put them on trial.2) Destroying the Terrorist Infrastructure. The kidnappings did not happen in a vacuum. Palestinian institutions eg radio and TV stations which preach hate create a climate condoning the kidnappings and an infrastructure which assists them. Those institutions and infrastructure should be destroyed or a least seriously degraded.3) Building Homes in Judea and Samaria Regardless of Washington's Opposition. This serves a triple purpose; first, it provides a living memorial to the victims. Second, it tells the Palestinians that attempts to uproot Jews from Israel will have the opposite effect. Third, it helps remedy Israel's housing shortage especially in Jerusalem.
How do you think the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria should be dealt with? Forced expulsion or leave them to simmer nicely in their own impotence?
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