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Ransom and Terrorists


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 3, 5779
What is the Jewish response to a 21st-century ransom issue and dealing with Islamic terrorists?
It is clear from the Bible that Judaism believes in fighting terror and our enemies and thus deterring them, to prevent evil before it raises its head. Avraham didn't offer ransom, but rather chased and freed Lot from his abductors (Breishit 14). Our rabbis teach (Gittin 45a) that it's forbidden to pay more ransom than the kidnapped is worth (e.g. 1 prisoner exchanged for 1 prisoner), otherwise it encourages the evil to do so again and again (just after war, we can free all of our prisoners in exchange for all of their's, even though, BH we always capture more than they do). We're very happy that Gilad Shalit is free, but halachically, to free many terrorists in exchange for less hostages, is prohibited for as we have seen, they often return to attack others, and who is to say that the freed hostage is more important than the Jews who may be killed in the future?!
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