web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Tu B’Shevat And The Value Of Life


Adam. Tree. Torah. In each, the singularity represents its commonality.

In the Talmud, Rabbi Shimeon ben Yochai tells us, “You, the Jews, are referred to as Adam, not so the nations of the world.”

This declaration is, on first read, troubling. Was he suggesting that only Jews are singular and unique; that only Jews hold a special place in Creation?

My grandfather, the sage Rabbi Bezalel Zev Shafran, z”l, author of Responsa R’Baz, explained, “One of the most basic differences between the Jewish nation and the nations of the world is the value and worth Jews place upon the life of an individual human being. We recognize this clearly in the Torah’s exempting of the individual soldier from military duty; the individual soldier who was just married, the individual soldier who recently built a new home, the individual soldier who recently planted a vineyard – they are excused from military service in spite of the fact that the national and collective welfare is at stake. The individual Adam’s feelings, sensitivities and concerns supersede even the national concern.”

Therefore, Rabbi Shimeon ben Yochai said, atem kruin adam – only among Jews is the individual life’s concerns of such paramount importance; v’ein umot ha’olam kruin adam – no such value and principle exists amongst the nations of the world.

My uncle Rabbi Hanoch Heinich Shafran, z’l, footnoted the words and understanding of Shimeon ben Yochai and my grandfather when he noted that all other words for “man” – ish, enosh, gever – can appear in either the singular or the plural. But adam only appears in the singular. So it is that among all the nations of the world, any national can belong to any religion, hence a French Protestant or a Lebanese Muslim. Not so the Jewish nation and religion.

This is a painful truth to confront in a pluralistic world, but a difficult truth is a truth nonetheless. Indeed, the high value Jews place on life as compared to others was demonstrated clearly in the recent Gaza operation. While Hamas used civilians as human shields, the Israelis sought to avoid civilian casualties.

For them, their battle was a necessary duty that imbued with the recognition that even in war – perhaps particularly in war – life is valuable and sacred.

The military rabbis brought several Torah scrolls with them on the buses to Gaza with the troops. When the soldiers entered Gaza, they did so in two rows. The rabbis stood in the middle. As each soldier passed, a hand went out to kiss the Torah. This is how our soldiers entered Gaza, with a hand reaching out to touch the eitz chaim, the tree of life.

Judaism teaches that each life is sacred. Indeed, the Talmud teaches that “Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.”

Life is good. Not one man’s or another’s but every man’s. Life itself is good. We know this because it is the spirit of God, moving through every living thing, that provides the gift of life.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tu B’Shevat And The Value Of Life”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
F-16 fighter jet.
ISIS ‘Prince’ of Iraq’s Anbar Province Killed
Latest Indepth Stories
Gush-Katif-082412

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

Red Line Obama

“What’s a line between friends?”

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

Thousands of rabbis pose in front of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday during the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Here, things seem to get a little hazy, why should a Jewish State “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel” confine itself to ensuring “complete equality… irrespective of religion, race, etc.”, especially when this includes “Arab inhabitants” who launched an “onslaught” against the State, months before it even existed? […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
800px-Israel_Hebron_Cave_of_the_Patriarchs

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/tu-bshevat-and-the-value-of-life/2009/02/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: