By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"And they blessed Rivka... Let your offspring inherit the gates of those who hate them [Bereishit 24:60]. "For He will bless you... and your offspring will inherit the gates of your enemies" [22:17].
The following are some comments in the wake of current events, from a Torah viewpoint, corresponding to my feelings and my outlook. We are in the midst of a war against a barbaric enemy. It is our fate to always be required to develop and give to the world new ways to cope with inhuman wild beasts who teach their children to murder and to commit suicide, the opposite of the verse, "With the pure You act in purity" [Shmuel II 22:27]. In the past, Israel taught the world not to surrender to hijackers of airplanes and not to give in to terrorist acts for the purpose of negotiating, and since then these types of events have all but disappeared. Now, here are some comments with respect to current events, including what is painted as "privatized terrorism."
Medical Treatment and Burial of Terrorists
(1) The return of bodies : I cannot fathom the reasoning behind our returning the bodies of terrorists to their families, who then stage celebrations in honor of the "shahidim" – the "martyrs" – and incite further violence in mass funerals, calling out for "a legacy of continuing" on the same path. The Minister of Defense declares that such bodies are a "burden" and not an asset. So what? It is sufficient for us to note that they demand the return of the bodies (and even have the gall to dictate their own terms for the process) to give us a prefect reason not to agree. What has happened to our flatterer of a Minister of Defense? Has he been struck dumb by a dose of exaggerated humanitarianism?
(2) A donkey's burial : When we bury the bodies (if for some reason we don't just throw them into the sea), it should be in the most humiliating way possible. Wrap them in "pigskins," and any other symbols that will deter the virgins of the world to come. We have learned this principle from the moral approach of our prophets: "For the one who sheds innocent blood... They will not lament them, saying, woe brother, woe sister... bury them in a donkey's burial... drag them away and throw them outside of the gates of Jerusalem." [Yirmiyahu 22:17-19].
(3) Treatment in our best hospitals: I am newly shocked every time I hear that an injured knife-wielding terrorist was evacuated to Hadassa Hospital at Ein Kerem, together with his or her victim. Are there no Palestinian hospitals in Chevron, Beit Lechem, or east Jerusalem? How far has the deteriorated state of our humanitarianism brought us? Does the Hippocratic Oath really require us to give them a bed in our best medical facilities? Let it suffice for them to have a "Sedom bed" in their own territories. I am willing to give up the opportunity to question them within our own borders, especially since it is possible to do this in their area too, and then take them prisoner, if necessary. I am sure that the picture of our soldiers bursting into their hospitals in order to capture criminals will add an additional element of deterrence to the situation.
Abrogating the Citizenship of Anybody who did not Protest
The Prime Minister made a suggestion that the citizenship should be rescinded of residents adjacent to Jerusalem which have become focal points for terror. I am absolutely in favor of the idea! - even if it means that our municipal legal area will be diminished in these areas. The very idea immediately fired up demonstrations and condemnation from Europe and America, and of course from our own leftists. Just look at the absurdity: Israel is willing to surrender its sovereignty in various specific areas, and everybody attacks the idea... In any case, the angry reactions are proof that the idea is a worthy weapon – sterile but harmful to the enemy.
And what about the issue of "collective punishment" that this suggestion seems to entail? We read just last week about the total annihilation of Sedom and Amora because their residents were "extremely evil and sinful to G-d" [Bereishit 13:13]. Avraham, the "father of a multitude of nations," the great humanist, tries to defend the people. "Will the judge of the entire earth not do justice?" [18:25]. But in spite of it all, the Master of the Universe decrees that all the nearby cities will be destroyed! It should be clear to any realist that not every single person in Sedom was a thug and a rapist. The general verse, "And the people of the city gathered around the house,young and old, the entire people from end to end" [Bereishit 19:4] is explained by Rashi to mean that "not a single person objected to the acts, such that there was not even one righteous person among them." It is clear that not every person physically participated in the "actions of Sedom." Rather, they all took part by giving encouragement, and it was decreed that they would be destroyed as participants of the crimes by virtue of their "lack of protest" against criminals and murderers! The ten "righteous men" for whom Avraham searched in vain might have merely been ten people who would have protested and demonstrated...
The principle of collective guilt of the people of Sedom can also be seen in the laws of a city which succumbs in its entirety to idol worship, and in the punishment meted out to the community of Korach. In these cases too, the collective punishment is given out because of a "lack of protest" which is in the end considered the same as active participation in extreme cases.
A Chareidi Knife in the Back
About ten days ago, an unbelievable and detestable article was published in the Chareidi newspaper, "Hamishpachah." The assistant editor turned directly to the Arabs with the following message: "Stop killing us (specifically referring to the Chareidim). The Chareidi community is not linked in any way with attempts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. We do not have any desire to pray there, except for one family..." The author points his finger in the direction of the "settlers." They are the ones who the Arabs want to attack! This author has put himself in the position of "mosser" – an informant – who in principle is clearly liable for a death penalty. "When somebody informs the Gentiles about Yisrael, whether pertaining to their bodies or their money, he thereby gives up his position in the world to come ... The informer can be killed everywhere, even at this time, when we do not usually try capital cases." [Rambam, Hilchot Chovel 8:9-10].
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At the beginning of this article, we quote the blessing of "those who hate them" and "the gate of your enemies" from last week's Torah portion. Rabeinu Bechayei has a surprising comment (Devarim 30:7): Your enemies – Yishmael. Those who hate you – Eisav... The enemy is worse than the one who hates... the enemy fills his heart with permanent loathing, he will never show any mercy... The children of Yishmael are worse for Yisrael than the children of Eisav."