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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Torah view of war

The Torah does not view war the same way the Western world does. The Torah has it's own morality that is very different then 20th Western morality. Unfortunately, there are many Jews who are very affected by Western culture and have adopted Western morality over Torah morality. Below I outline the Torah's view on war. I am sure there will be many liberals and יפה נפש who will be horrified by this and call me a barbarian. However, this is what the Torah says. We need to follow the Torah's morality not Western morality.

I. כיבוש מלחמה

The Torah states that territory acquired through conquest is yours both for Jews and non-Jews. See the gemara in Gittin 38a. In other words territory that Israel conquered in 1967 is ours al pi torah based on the din of kibush milchama.

II. Innocent Civilians

The Torah does not recognize the concept of innocent civilians. The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (6:5, 6:6) writes:

ואם לא השלימו, או שהשלימו ולא קיבלו שבע מצוות--עושין עימהם מלחמה, והורגין כל הזכרים הגדולים, ובוזזין כל ממונם וטפם; ואין הורגין אישה ולא קטן--שנאמר "והנשים והטף" (ראה דברים כ,יד; וראה דברים ב,לד), זה טף של זכרים.

ו,ו במה דברים אמורים, במלחמת הרשות, שהיא עם שאר האומות. אבל שבעה עממין ועמלק שלא השלימו, אין מניחין מהם נשמה: שנאמר "כן תעשה לכל הערים . . . רק, מערי העמים . . . לא תחייה, כל נשמה" (דברים כ,טו-טז), וכן הוא אומר בעמלק "תמחה את זכר עמלק" (דברים כה,יט).

If they do not make peace and do not accept he 7 mitzvos we make war and we kill all the adult males ...this is in a voluntary war but with the 7 nations and Amalek we kill everyone

We see that we kill all the adult males even if they are civilians.

III. Collective Punishment

The Maharal writes in Gur Aryeh (Parshas Vayishlach perek 34 pasuk 13)
Although the Torah reads ... you shall greet them peacefully, this speaks of a city that did not harm us. But as regards those who attack the Jews even if only one of their members was responsible for this act revenge may be exacted on the entire nation because he is one of them.

The Maharal writes explicitly that the Torah allows for collective punishment (this is how he explains how Shimon and Levi were allowed to kill the whole city of Shechem) if someon attacks you.

IV. Genocide

The Torah commands us to wipe out Amalek copmpletely men, women and children.

V. פיקוח נפש

There is no din of פיקוח נפש in war. The Minchas Chinuch mitzva 424 makes this point, otherwise the Jewish people could never go to war. The Netziv writes this as well (Kiddushin 45a) as well as the Brisker Rav on teh Haftara of Parshas Beshalach as well as other acharonim.

It is very clear that today the Palestinians are at war with the Jewish people as RHS states and as R' Yaakov Kamenetsky paskened and therefore we do not need to be ashamed at what has been done to the Palestinians, rather we need to say why are we risking Jewish lives to save Palestinians.

26 Comments:

At 2:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

R Yaakov didn't pasken that any Zionist war is a milchames mitzva. He argued that in specific instances, self defense can lead to milchemes mitzva. It is tiresome that you keep quoting him out of context.

Everything you quote applies prechurban and doesn't apply to the current state UNLESS you believe that the current state has the same status as prechurban, iow, unless you are a militant messianic zionist.

You want to know why more people don't move to Israel? Because there are a lot of crazies there who believe this kind of nonsense. You don't even seem to realize that it's highly debatable if one can even have a "milchemes r'shus" unless you have a Jewish malchus or sanhedrin. There can be milchemes mitzva for pikuach nefesh.

We don't have the moral right to conceive of ourselves or to act as though God has given his stamp of approval to our presence in a way that is clear enough to justify fighting in any way shape or form for a Jewish state independent of our survival. Technically, legally, we have lost power w/o sanhedrin. Morally, the spirit of the law is that we came to E"Y originally with miracles, but we lost the land through our sins, and we have no right to assert our presence because it is not obvious to others that we have a right to be there. When God makes it clear, then we will have the right again. Until then, you are a raving madman.

 
At 2:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really am disappointed. I thought you were sane, up until you began blogging about E"Y and Zionism. Whenever people quote amaraim living in bavel on the topic of E"Y, to tell Jews that they have to up and move to Israel, whatever they perceive the benefits of living in chutz laaretz are, it takes all of five seconds to discover that what really underlies that is militant zionism. It's complete bunk to insist that charedim "have to" move to israel if they don't share your ideology; they get to decide which environment is HEALTHIER for their kids, and an environment full of people who quote the dinim of milchama in the times of sanhedrin as though it applied b'zman hazeh are not exactly part of a healthy environment.
Theres a moral duty to act DIFFERENTLY than one could when everyone knew we had a right to eretz yisroel. this is what all of Jewish history is about.
I mean, you keep carrying on about how before the state, no one could move to E"Y because it was barren - but exactly why was it barren if not that no Jews moved there. And you tell people they should move en masse and that will solve the cultural problem in Israel, yet no one ever moved en masse in the past, right??
And the reason not to move to Israel today is that it's populated by crazed lunatics like yourself who think they are living in a prechurban society, and another group of people who freeload off them, and almost no one who has a sane view that we have questionable rights to launch aggression except when fully justified in self defense.

 
At 2:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, there are many Jews who are very affected by Western culture and have adopted Western morality over Torah morality."

This is SUCH bullshit, such utter gall. The view of just about all gedolei yisroel is that these concepts don't apply b'zman hezeh

What do the 9 days mean to you if you think that you can act as though the churban never happened, and the rambam in hil melachim applies today?
It is narcissitic fantasy to act as though this is our right today. At the moment, without a mandate from God, we are bound by the same rules as every other country and "Western" society makes those rules.

 
At 2:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

same goes for collective punishment. Today, if you act that way you are a murderer.

It's people who spout garbage like this who produce Jewish terrorists.

 
At 4:57 AM, Blogger Romach said...

If you really question people I'm not sure they would agree that there is such a concept as civilians in war.

The idea of differentiating between civilians and military personnel seems (at least to me) to be a method for mitigating damage. If we fight we agree to X in order to resolve the problem and not cause more harm than normal. Think rules for POW's, torture, chemical weapons, etc.

In a manner of speaking perhaps it is similar to Dovid and Goliat. Why kill everyone? Send out your champion and whoever wins, wins. At least in theory.

 
At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Torah does not view war the same way the Western world does. The Torah has it's own morality that is very different then 20th Western morality. Unfortunately, there are many Jews who are very affected by Western culture and have adopted Western morality over Torah morality. Below I outline the Torah's view on war. I am sure there will be many liberals and יפה נפש who will be horrified by this and call me a barbarian. However, this is what the Torah says. We need to follow the Torah's morality not Western morality."

This is like saying that the torah says that you can kill people who violate shabbos or who commit adultery. But the torah doesn't say that. The torah says anyone who does that today is a murderer. We could only do that in a time of moral clarity, not today.

Same for all the stuff you quote, it's not applicable to our own times.

It's you who is influenced by the environment - only you're not influenced by Western morality. You're influenced by corrupt Middle East values. If you are going to pick secular values, the Arabs are not the people to pick your secular values from.

 
At 8:36 AM, Blogger bluke said...

It is hard to figure out who is who when everyone is anonymous. Let's start from the beginning.

Just like I thought would happen, everyone misunderstood what I was saying. I am not advocating actually doing any of these things. I am trying to explain the Torah perspective. It is undeniable that the halacha says the things that I wrote. Whether or not they apply today in full is irrelevent. We need to look at what the Torah says about these issues and understand that the Torah disagrees and contradicts modern morality.

R' Zevin in his sefer L'Or HaHalacha states explicitly that the wars of the current state of Israel have the din of milchemes mitzva and the government has the din of a Jewish government. RHS points out in his sefer that following Torah and Mitzvos is not a provision for calling a government a Jewish government. We don't find anywhere in Tanach, SHas, etc. that a Jewish King who was a rasha like Achav was not considered a Jewish government. R' Yaakov Kamenetsky clearly did pasken that the situation with the Arabs is a milchemes mitzva.

Even if you disagree with the above, it doesn't change the Torah's hashkafa. The Torah's hashkafa is that there is no such things as civilians. Even if we cannot put it into practice we can't deny that that is what the Torah said.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger bluke said...

One of the 13 principles of emuna is that the Torah doesn't change. When moshiach comes all these things will be in force. We will fulfill the mitzva of destroying Amalek (genocide), we will fight wars al pi torah. This is undeniable (see the Rambam in the last perek of Hilchos Melachim).

Therefore, whether these dinim apply specifically nowadays is not that relevant to this dicussion. Even if they don't they show us the Torah's view on these issues and therefore for example, I cannot get worked up if the Israeli army drops a bomb and kills "innocent civilians" or imposes collective punishment because the Torah allows this.

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger bluke said...

You don't even seem to realize that it's highly debatable if one can even have a "milchemes r'shus" unless you have a Jewish malchus or sanhedrin. There can be milchemes mitzva for pikuach nefesh.

The above statement makes no sense. What war that Israel has fought has been a milchemes reshus? Every war has been a defensive war to save us from the Arabs. You agree that there is a milchemes mitzva for pikuach nefesh, that has been the case in all of teh wars.

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger bluke said...

but exactly why was it barren if not that no Jews moved there.

EY was barren because Hashem wanted it to be. The Torah states in the Tochacha (Bechukosay 26:32) that EY will be desolate, this is a beracha so that no other nation will settle there and this is exactly what happened. Until the Jews started returning in the 1880's the land was absolutely desolate. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) writes that the biggest sign that the geula is coming is when EY starts to flower again. This happened in the last 100 years.

 
At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did you have to stretch to pull out a Maharal about collective punishment? What the Maharal says is not proof enough of what the Torah holds, especially not in these matters.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger bluke said...

RHS quoted the Maharal regarding collective punishment in his article about land for peace.

 
At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Bill Selliger said...

Great post, although it's pashut. These are the dinim of the Torah. There is no denying it. You should have quoted Tehillim: "Ashrei sh'yochez v'nifetz...".

It's going to be interesting when Moshiach comes to see how we adapt to the dinim of the Torah, now that we're so Western in our thought...I wonder what the first public stoning will be like? Probably not much of a crowd. By the 10th, the scalpers will probably be getting 8x face value (on eBay).

 
At 1:32 AM, Anonymous A Jew Who Once Learned said...

I would hope that when Mashiach comes we will enter the time when the entire world recognizes that "Hashem echad ushmo echad" and there no longer is strife and evil.
If the lion will lie down with the lamb, we won't be stoning anyone because they won't be transgressing.
But remember, the Chofetz Chaim learned Kodoshim because he expected Mashiach and he wanted to ready as a Kohen to to the Avoda in the rebuilt Beit Hamikdash.
For those whose beliefs are fundamentalist, beware what you wish for--you may get it (Bimhayra beyamaynu).

 
At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Nobody said...

"We see that we kill all the adult males even if they are civilians."

At that time there was no such thing as a "trained" solder vs. a civilian. When conquest was at issue, all the men fought. So I'm not sure that the distinction is relevant in the Rambam.

If only one group of a city wants to fight the war, and the remainder will be happy to be conquered (i.e. civilians), what is the Din?

 
At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bluke,

You completely miss the point. How should you feel if the Israeli government starting putting Shabbas violators to death? You should feel they are *murderers* and they have no right to do that. That has nothing to do with the torah perspective, which requires a sanhedrin to put anyone to death.

All the talk of Jewish government is beside the point; we need a sanhedrin and perhaps a melech too for any of these dinim to apply. Anyone who applies them now is a *murderer*

As for milchemes mitzva, yes-- but you mistake the point. R Ziemba said it was a milchemes mitzva to fight the Nazis. That doesn't necessarily give you the right to kill innocent Germans, *except* if it is necessary for tactical advantage. If someone had said, "Ok, it's a milchemes mitzva, let's kill Germans at random, for no military purpose" they would have been murderers.

Anything else is PSYCHO. I hate to be this harsh, but the line of thought you are pursuing here is why there are Israeli citizens walking onto Buses and shooting up Arabs. This is really dangerous stuff, and not AT ALL the Torah perspective on how to act. Come Moshiach, that's a different story. Today, you are advocating murder and make no mistake about that.

The spirit of the law, which completely escapes you, is that we do not have the moral clarity to kill shabbas violators, adulterers, or innocent civilians for no purpose. It's not a minor technicality that we have a Jewish government that doesn/t have the right to engage in wars as the Rambam describes (or to put its own citizens to death for torah violations as the rambam also describes). It is central to our self-conception that we don't have the moral right or the moral clarity to act this way today.
People who think they do have the moral clarity to act this way are *according to the torah* advocating terrorism and murder , not people who are acting on the spirit of the torah.

"Therefore, whether these dinim apply specifically nowadays is not that relevant to this dicussion. Even if they don't they show us the Torah's view on these issues and therefore for example, I cannot get worked up if the Israeli army drops a bomb and kills "innocent civilians" or imposes collective punishment because the Torah allows this."

The torah's view on WHAT? On 7 umos and amalek - the 7 umos haven't existed since sancheriv and we don't know how to identify amalek today! On a milchemes r'shus for which we need melech or sanhedrin? Without these, we are not missing some technicality - we lack all moral right to engage in this behavior.


Another thing. I don't think I misunderstood you at all. I know you didn't mean that every last halacha applies, but you clearly think the spirit of the halacha applies, and it's just a technicality ...Jewish govenrment w/ sanhedrin, without sanhedrin, what's the difference.

But even if I had misunderstood you, you are irresponsible and your rhetoric is dangerous. It's the responsibility of Israelis to be unambiguous, and to denounce violence and terrorism against civilians, except for defensive purposes. Anyone whose words can be misunderstood is responsible for the climate in which extremists launch terror against Arab civilians. Or do you think that is also a technicality, and when some crazed settler lets loose with a gun, it's really ok "in spirit" and you don't have much problem with that either, because it's the underlying torah law, huh? Your pov is truly dangerous.

 
At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Ploni Almoni said...

Anonymous,
While one can debate whether a defensive war nowadays has the real halachik status of a Milchama where all males are to be killed, the Palistinians
adult males should all be Chayav Misah according to Rambam for the reason he stated regarding Shechem, that they do not punish people who murder Jews, but rather make them into heroes.

 
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At 5:22 AM, Blogger DovBear said...

If they do not make peace and do not accept he 7 mitzvos we make war and we kill all the adult males ...this is in a voluntary war but with the 7 nations and Amalek we kill everyone



Everyone? The cite says you don't kill women and children.
---

The Torah commands us to wipe out Amalek copmpletely men, women and children

Arabs aren't Amalek

---
rather we need to say why are we risking Jewish lives to save Palestinians.

Don't second guess the generals. Don't second guess the politicians. It's possible - likely - that the higherups understand that things will be worse for Israel if they kill civilians. They don't want to pay the political cost. They don't want to become a paraih nation. They don't want to jeapordize American support. And so on.

All good pragmatic reasons for sparing civillians.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger bluke said...

These are the same politicians who promised that the disengagement would make things better, that the Palestinians would not shoot Kassams after disengagement. These are the same politicians who ran away from Lebanon and then let Hiezbollah arm itself to the teeth on the border and we see the tragic results.These are teh same politicians who signed Oslo and said the Palestinians would never dare use the rifles we gave them on us.

In short, the track record of the politicians is pretty lousy so why should I think they know anything now?

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger bluke said...

Everyone? The cite says you don't kill women and children.

What did you not understand?
אבל שבעה עממין ועמלק שלא השלימו, אין מניחין מהם נשמה

Secondly, RYBS said in the name of his Grandfather, R. Hayim Soloveitchik, the wording of the Rambam implies that the status of Amalek can be earned by someone not genetically related to the original Amalekites. R. Soloveitchik claimed that one who acts like the original Amalekites gains that status. Hezbollah and Iran are certainly acting like the original Amalekites.

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger DovBear said...

ואין הורגין אישה ולא קטן-

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger DovBear said...

In short, the track record of the politicians is pretty lousy so why should I think they know anything now?

The same torah which you claim says we can kill civillians, also says that the government can risk the life of its soldiers for the sake of expanding borders and for ולהרבות בגדולתו ושמעו.

Surely it's also ok for the govt to risk the life of its soldiers for the political gains discussed above.

 
At 9:15 PM, Blogger bluke said...

No it is not. That is talking about a milchemes hareshus. A milchemes hareshus requires the consent of the Sanhedrin and asking the Urim V'Tumim, none of these exist today. The only war that can be fought today is a milchemes mitzva.

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger bluke said...

ואין הורגין אישה ולא קטן

That is talking about a milchemes hareshus not a milchemes mitzva. Today we are in a milchemes mitzzva.

 

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