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Shalit Deal


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Cheshvan 11, 5780
What does Jewish law say on the Shalit Deal - 1000 terrorists released for a Jewish soldier?
ב"ה Shalom The classic case of redeeming of a captive in the Talmud (Gitin 45a), is when a person was kidnapped for ransom. The Talmud forbids redeeming of captives for exorbitant amounts of money because of Tikun olam- the "betterment of the world", and the Talmud offers two reasons for this ordinance. One: if the kidnappers ask for too much, the community may not be able to withstand the financial burden. Two: If the too much is given, they may attempt to kidnap again. Unfortunately, this was not a theoretical discussion. Rav Meir of Rothenberg zt"l was taken prisoner in Germany in the 13th century. The community mobilized an enormous sum of money, but he refused to be redeemed based upon the above Talmud and he eventually died in prison after seven years of incarceration. Though the same principles apply, the reality in our time is much different from the time of the Talmud. It is soldier who was taken captive, who worked as an emissary for the people of Israel and for whom the State of Israel has a moral obligation to redeem. On the other hand, the captives did not ask for money, but for the release of murderers some of which after their release murdered again. There are strategic factors involved when it comes to national security and of course there may have been other factors which were never made public. Therefore, at the time there was no uniform opinion on the issue and there were many Rabbis who strongly opposed the deal. May Hashem watch and keep over us and to save the Jewish people from such dilemmas. All the best
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