Photo Credit: Jewish Press

A small number of Israelis have responded to the recent wave of murderous Palestinian terror attacks by taking action against Arab villages. These mainly young and right-wing Jews have been widely denounced as zealots and dangerous extremists. Responding to the murder of innocent Jews with zealotry and anger can be understood in light of two Biblical personalities who responded in kind to obscene violations of the other two cardinal sins of the Torah: idolatry and sexual immorality.

When confronted with a public display of immorality, Pinchas took matters into his own hands and killed the perpetrators in the heat of passion. Rather than punishing him, G-d praised and rewarded Pinchas who “turned My anger away from the Israelites by being zealous” (Numbers 25:11). Similarly, the righteous Eliyahu HaNavi killed the idolatrous prophets of Baal and announced, “I have been very zealous for the Lord!” (I Kings 19:14).


Certain behaviors are so demonic and evil, that the Torah makes room for zealotry under extreme circumstances. Without condoning violence, we must study our texts to help understand how our peace loving brothers could be provoked to zealotry and rage when, in today’s day and age, Jewish blood is horrifically shed in Israel.


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Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” the best-selling Tanakh highlighting the relationship between the Land and People of Israel. Rabbi Weisz is dedicated to building healthy relationships between Jews and Christians in support of Israel. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh and can be reached at [email protected].