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exchanging dangerous terrorist for corpses


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

Av 4, 5768
In light if the upcoming trade of terrorist Kuntar for the bodies of Regev and Goldwasser, I feel a need to understand the Jewish value of proper burial. I understand that burial is a great Chesed for the dead, but can this value possibly justify endangering future Israelis and handing a victory over to Israel’s arch enemy? Today there was talk in the media about Israel’s conviction to do all to return a soldier home. But my instinct tells me that this is just a couple of corpses whose soul has already reached its resting place. Am I missing something here? What would Halacha say in this case?
The Talmud [Gittin 45a] and Shulchan Aruch [YD 252; 4] limit the price we should pay for captives with the reason of future cost for current overpay. The case of Regev and Goldwaser is subject to rabbinic dispute whether it was or wasn't within the parameters of the above Halachic statement. I have seen that Chief Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of Ramat-Gan shares your views on this matter as well.
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