Whose Jewish War Ethic?
I just read in Haaretz an article reporting some of R. Israel Rosen’s statements regarding the problem of rockets from Gaza. One can read the article for details or the column itself here in Hebrew (it’s at the end). In addition the article said that “Earlier in the week, the settlers’ rabbinical council expressed support for a return to the “Jewish ethic” of killing someone before he kills you.” I am no expert in military-strategic planning, although I think that the types of a “Jewish” response are far from monolithic. I think that this midrash which discusses the story of the expulsion of Ishmael shouldn’t be left out of the discussion.
“Where he is” (Gen. 21:17): R. Simon said, “The angelic hosts jumped to accuse him and said before him, “Ruler of all the worlds, a person who in the future will kill your son through thirst you are raising for him a well?” He said to them, “Now what is he?”. They said to him, “A righteous person”. He said to them, “I don’t judge people except as they are standing before me.” “Lift up the child” (Gen. 21:18)
(Gen. Rabbah 53:18, Theodor-Albeck ed. pp. 572-573)
I am all for punishing the guilty, yet let us not forget Jacob’s words on his death bed,
“5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; weapons of violence their kinship. 6 Let my soul not come into their council; unto their assembly let my glory not be united; for in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they houghed oxen. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel; I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” (Gen. 49)