Jul 11 2014

When Waging War is Pursuing Peace

RED FLAG 04-3As Pinchas taught us, sometimes an act of violence promotes peace.

At the end of last week’s Torah reading, we are told that one of the leaders of the Tribes of Israel engaged in an immoral act, deliberately violating the Commandments. He did it brazenly, “in your face,” challenging Moshe and all of the Children of Israel. Everyone was crying, but Pinchas knew what he had to do: pick up a spear. And how did G-d respond? Per this week’s reading, He bestowed upon Pinchas His Covenant of Peace.

We have no prophets today, but neither are any necessary to understand that there is no evil in killing barbarians bent upon killing you.

To those offended by my use of the term barbarians, I offer no apology. These are not civilized human beings with the same values as you and me. People who target women and children, hospitals and kindergartens, are barbarians. People who loudly proclaim that they “celebrate death,” are barbarians. People who bring their own children into buildings after a phone call from the IDF warning them that the building is about to be destroyed, are barbarians.

It is clear that Israel is making a maximum effort to minimize civilian casualties. When the barbarians have their families gather on top of the roof of the building, the IDF changes its mind and doesn’t destroy it. When the barbarians launch a missile next to a residential or office building, the IDF waits until it can target the precise spot. Multiple times they have targeted the vehicles driven by leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, waiting until no pedestrians were nearby. They have even destroyed entire buildings while barely damaging nearby residences.

So we pray for the safety of the soldiers. We pray for the safety of every civilian, on either side. And when Hamas decides to abandon the path of terrorism and join civilization, no one should try to kill them. But in the meantime, terrorism must be stopped.

As someone put it previously, “if Hamas laid down its weapons, there would be no war; if the IDF laid down its weapons, there would be no Israel.” And in their effort to protect lives, the IDF is going to kill terrorists. There will be “Palestinian casualties,” the majority of whom, according to all accounts, were active terrorists and others warned to leave buildings that served as operations centers or storage locations for missiles, and came inside instead. Sometimes the pursuit of peace requires waging war, and our regret at casualties must be tempered by the knowledge that the IDF is pursuing peace, not war.


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    • Amen on July 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm
    • Reply

    Although I agree with all the comments about “barbarians” I dont think the story of Pinchas is in any way related to the idea of killing “barbarians” or any enemy. Dont the sages discuss the zealousness of Pinchas a whole different issue related not to a physical threat but a special case in which a response to a public and brazen violation of Torah can be addressed without due process of law when the individual is completely free of ulterior, ego-based motives –and only Hashem can judge that.
    So I personally dont see how Pinchas can be used to justify any action related to the current violence.

  1. Thank you Rabbi. Those words were put so beautifully and sensibly. Shabbat shalom

  2. Thank you for this post. May the Lord bless and keep His people in His land. May the hearts of terrorists and barbarians soften. And may the world know that the Lord has brought peace in that place.

    • Daniel Bengio on July 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm
    • Reply

    I am with you 110%!! We are not dealing with human beings here; I think you’re being too kind to call them barbarians, because those are also human. But these people behave in a sub-human fashion. In the words of Golda Meir: “there will be peace in Israel when the Arabs love their children more than they hate our”!!
    Shabbat Shalom!

  3. When confronted by an implacable enemy dedicated to the slaughter of all Jews, the book of Joshua should be the basis for the IDF battle doctrine.

    • Zegota on July 11, 2014 at 9:05 pm
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    I pray daily for my friends, brothers and sisters in Israel, for they are the light for the rest of the world. We must honor our Heavenly Father instruction, for He is the One True G-d and His Will, will be done. As Christians we are instructed to follow the Holy Scriptures and we cannot follow His words, unless we stand with Israel.
    I sincerely pray that Israel will be protected and for the people understand that millions of Americans are with them today, and tomorrow. That regardless of what they may hear from some of our leaders in Washington D.C., the fact is, we as true Christians follow the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, knowing that our Heavenly Father is the One True G-d. That the government of man cannot override the laws of G-d, we will stand with Him above, and with Israel. I pray that Israel will feel our love, and our strength, for you are not alone, the Father of Abraham, Father of Isaac and the Father of Jacob stands with you. So does millions of G-d fearing Americans who understands and follows the Holy Scriptures of the Heavenly Father. Shalom Israel, from millions and millions of Americans, who stand with you.

    • Neil R. on July 12, 2014 at 10:41 am
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    To not acknowledge the differences between Israel defending its’ right to exist and Hamas’s stated desire to kill all who oppose their ideology as well as Jews; is to ignore the truth.

    • PHILIP PELTZ on July 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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    Noone could have said it better. Y’yasher koach!

    • Jim Thrien on July 13, 2014 at 6:40 am
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    So very true. I just wish the media could report these things accurately without the bias. Thank you for sounding the truth. It bothers me that there aren’t enough people doing this and there seems to be so many against us. Has the world gone mad??? Why are so many deliberately misrepresenting the facts in order to hurt us? What have we done to deserve this???

    • theresa on July 15, 2014 at 6:42 am
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    G-d bless ysr. may the house of ysr be blessed with an easy fast.
    you are right rabbi. as a noahide,i am disgusted at the way humans can behave in such an in human way. one does not have to know the 7 laws to behave like humans. basic human values are given to us when we are born. there is no nation other than ysr that warns the civilians to leave before attacking. the nations who are citicising ysr should take this first into account. there is nothing wrong in what you wrote. you wrote the truth. i am disgusted that mothers can send their children to deaths knowingly. and fathers too.

    • Vivian on July 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm
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    Thanks for this article. I thought that when the IDF warned those people they just did not leave because they wanted to stay in their places, but the truth is that they GET INTO warned places so the world believes that Israel is the bad guy here. All countries should ask what nation on earth uses rubber bullets and warns civilians in enemy territory to save themselves early enough before she attacks specific spots. Please.

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