Photo Credit: Michael Giladi/Flash90
Israeli soldiers photographed on May 22.

Nothing in this article should be construed to support the intentional killing of any civilian of any nationality.

Although the proposals to end or not to end the war in Gaza seem to never end – or to never be acceptable to both sides – and may change by the time this piece will be published, the world was told a few days ago, once again, that the Israelis submitted a proposal for dealing with Gaza that would satisfy the Israelis as well as Hamas, even though the Israelis insist that they will not stop until Hamas will be dismantled and even though Hamas insists it will not sign off on a deal unless the deal will call for the Israelis to evacuate completely from Gaza and to let Hamas stay to repeat October 7th another day – and many more days, G-d forbid.


The problem is that the Talmud (Bava Metzia 94a) brings us down to earth by taking the position that with regard to any condition that one can ultimately fulfill, the condition must be valid. This implies that if the condition cannot be fulfilled at all, once the action has been carried out, the condition is void. On the other hand, the Talmud goes on to point out that “the rabbis” say that if conditions are stipulated, even if they can’t be fulfilled, they are valid anyway.

Either way, back to Gaza, nothing about the recent proposals or any of the conditions included in them seems likely to be approved and implemented by both parties.

The Talmud takes the position that conditions should be made first before actions are taken (or otherwise the conditions are deemed void), but in Gaza it would seem that actions are going on and ceasefires were being broken (most notably by Hamas on various occasions, including most notoriously on October 7) long before the ceasefire proposals circulated a few days ago.

The Talmud comes up with some colorful examples of conditions not likely to be met, such as a bill of divorce conditional on an ascension to the skies (before the Wright brothers invented the airplane) or to cross the Great Sea by foot (a second time, or a first time after the Jews accomplished this feat with their feet in Exodus, with Heavenly assistance, not to be counted on necessarily or to the same degree in this instance). Again, there is a position in the Talmud that the divorce would be binding regardless of whether or not these conditions can be met.

The issue of trust certainly comes up in the Gaza proposals teetering on the edge of the table, especially considering that what happened on October 7 occurred while a ceasefire was in effect, not to mention the allegations against Israel as to fatalities in hospitals and refugee encampments that had to be walked back, once investigations were completed and documented (when it turned out that alleged Israeli attacks on a Gaza hospital were later proven to be based on Hamas misfires, and a more recent alleged Israeli attack on a refugee encampment has since been shown to have been aimed at combatants not in the refugee safe zone, and a fire some distance away, at the refugee safe zone set up by the Israelis, was actually allegedly caused by Hamas’s hidden weapons exploding into a huge fire), and the allegations of noncombatants who died that had to be scaled down (by thousands, on May 8, by the generally anti-Israel United Nations). The Talmud in the page under discussion refers to a rumor that goes out that a person is trustworthy, which certainly goes to the heart of the proposals that continue to be under discussion.

Let us all hope and pray that no more civilian lives will be lost, Israeli or Arab. But query whether it is realistic to expect this to happen if the leadership of the Israelis, the Arabs, and the Americans all have their way. The fact of life – and warfare – is that some civilians, often many, inevitably lose their lives no matter who loses the war. The question is how to minimize the loss of civilian lives. The answer, most convincingly, is in the article by John Spencer, a leading American military expert on urban warfare – if not the leading such expert – that can be found by Googling the Newsweek article, “Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare.”

The writer continues to suggest that the best thing we can do to combat misinformation about the war in Gaza is to circulate the Newsweek article referred to above, not just among knowledgeable pro-Israel people but especially among individuals who consider themselves to be liberal or progressive.

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Rabbi Aaron I. Reichelm esq., has written, edited, or supplemented various books, most notably about rabbis and community leaders in his family. But one of his most enduring memories is hearing that his grandmother who he remembers as always being in a wheelchair consistently said that her favorite English song was “Count your blessings.”