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Public hangings are commonplace

What do the Torah and other classical commentators have to say about combatting enemies during the hell of war?

“When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots-forces larger than yours-have no fear of them, for the L-rd your G-d, who brought you from the land of Egypt, is with you.”- (Deuteronomy 20:1). What is meant by your enemies? Said the Holy One, Blessed be He: Go against them as enemies, just as they do not have mercy upon you, have no mercy on them.”-(Midrash Tanhuma, Shoftim 15.)


What about interfaith dialogue? Or concern for “the other”?

Parshat Mase’ei. “Vehorashtem”- “You shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy all their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images, and you shall demolish all their cult places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have assigned the land for you to possess. ” (Numbers 33: 52-53)

And then we have the terrible prophecy which warns us of the repercussions of failing to carry out the Divine imperative:

“But if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you live; so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them.” (Numbers 33:55-56)

The Ohr HaChaim (Pentateuch commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar) raises a critical point, lest someone pursue a faulty line of reasoning:

“You must drive out”. Although the verse said of the seven nations “you shall not allow any people to remain alive” (Deut. 20:16) Here, the Torah is talking about other nations found there beside the seven. It therefore was careful to say, “all the lands’ inhabitants,” meaning, even those not of the seven. (Numbers 33:52)

Mercy, compassion, pity: wonderful and necessary Jewish traits; but not for our enemies. Not for ISIS and not for the people of Gaza. History has proven time and again that “Whoever shows mercy when cruelty is warranted, will ultimately become cruel when mercy is warranted ” (Koheleth Rabbah 7:16). The truths of Torah are eternal. Nachmanides warned of the dangers of “turning the other cheek”, which many liberal Jews have mistaken for a Jewish tenet:

“Through the mercy of fools, all justice is lost.” (Deut. 7:15-16)

Noach Didn’t Behave This Way

I am sick of those who distort halacha, quote the Rambam, and in an oft mentioned distortion, grant the Arabs the status of Bnai Noach. First things first: The Arabs are not Bnai Noach! No classical rishon would have applied the term to murderous Arabs. The Rambam’s criteria for Bnai Noach by its very definition cannot be applied to Muslims since in addition to abrogation of the primary commandments (i.e. murder, rape, theft, lawlessness, etc.) they reject the Torah of Am Yisroel, they have their own system of festivals, fasts, and rituals, and most importantly, they have a false prophet. To the uninformed, one who studies the Rambam’s section on wars will be introduced to his perspective on Bnai Noach.

And to assign them the category of “ger toshav” (resident stranger)? Without getting into the very complicated issue of the former halachic category which can in no way be applied to them, let us first address the fact that since they are not Bnai Noach they cannot be “resident strangers.” They are as far from being “resident strangers” under even the most liberal rendering of the halacha, as you and I are from being Muslim. Cite your sources, Rabbi Landes. Who would maintain such a position? Certainly not the same Rambam you chose to cite. Not the Ra’avad, not the Sifrei, or Radak. Who then? Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine?


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Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam's rational approach to Judaism.