Maccabee's Wars

A venting rage against the ills of our society with some hopeful observations.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


After reviewing the Tradition article on Torture and the Law a second time, I see that I misinterpreted R. Bleich’s position.

In quoting R. Kook’s position as to torture, it seems that a Hora’at Sha’ah would only be needed to violate murder, which would be illegal both under Noahide and Judaic law.

As to torture, however, it seems that once the person who will be subject to torture is categorized as a rodef, torture would be permissible, and may be required by law.

I regret my misinterpretation of R. Bleich’s article, as per my previous post, and do so apologize for my error.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

On the Warpath

In the recent issue of Tradition devoted to War and the Jewish Tradition, many questions were raised as to the permissibility of war, how to act in war and the permissibility of torture.

Though the guest editor of the periodical admitted that these articles were written prior to the War in Lebanon this past summer, the articles showed a liberal sensitivity that was uncalled for and neglected to mention rabbinical authorities who would otherwise differ.

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau questions whether “Israel is truly in a state of war with the collective body of Palestinians when Israel frequently hires Palestinian workers.”

He states, further, that “Palestinian children do not directly harm or plan to harm Israeli’s and therefore are not rodfim.” Nor does he feel that those who encourage terror and who “pat a terrorist on the back for killing, [should be viewed as] a rodef.”

Has Rabbi Blau forgotten all the materials gathered by MEMRI which shows the constant incitement to murder and become homicide bombers? Why does he ignore, the children who spew the same venom as adults? Is it not the children who for years have been attacking Israeli troops with rocks and whatever they can get their hands on?

Those who encourage terrorism, stand behind it and do not oppose it are not necessarily “excluded as innocents not involved in hostilities.”

Rabbi Shalom Carmy, in his article regarding the origin of Cannan and Amalek, quotes Rav Eliyahu Henkin “that Jews cannot arrive at decisions [about who holds an Amalek pedigree] on our own but only through divine command.”

Further he quotes Professor Avi Sagi and R. Avigdor Amiel that the war against Amalek is only a spiritual one and “[w]hen Judaism declared war against militarism it was not through militarism.”

Rabbi Carmy neglects to mention Rav Herschel Schechter’s view that the Palestinians are the reincarnation of Amalek. It is not the pedigree of the Nazis or the Arabs that we should be examining, but the evil spirituality which they take upon themselves. As I understand Rav Shachter, acting as Amalek is the reincarnation of Amalek and the Torah’s Mitzvah of Zacher Amalek applies to this new reincarnation.

Worse yet is Rabbi J. David Bleich’s article on the ‘ticking bomb’ and Jewish Law. To basically look to a Hora’at Sha’ah, an ad hoc emergency directive, to authorize a ‘torture warrant’ is ludicrous.

According to the author, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook would only allow torture, “if the entire Jewish people or perhaps only the entire populace of the Land of Israel” were in danger. To say that Rav Kook’s thesis would be “applicable only when the threat is of the magnitude of a nuclear holocaust” is equally ludicrous.

The entire Jewish nation and the world at large are threatened every day by terrorism and annihilation. Whether it’s the Palestinians at a local level in Israel, Hizballah in Lebanon, Iran with its nuclear aspirations or Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq and worldwide, we are all in danger.

If one person could be saved based on the torture of an individual, as heinous as it may seem to the “human psyche,” it is well worth it. When the author quotes rabbinic lore to “[l]et the law pierce the mountain” it does not mean that our sensibilities to save the world, using torture, are wrong. It means that we should use the law to find a way to save the world, even via torture.

Better to remember the phrase Kol Hamatzil Nefesh Achas M’iyisroel Ke’ilu Kayem Olam Molei then to focus on the rights of those who wish to harbor terrorism.