Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • War Ethics



Rabbi Ari Shvat

Sivan 13, 5781
From a moral standpoint I fully agree with you. I just want to know if there are any specific Halachic justifications for this and their sources
Almost the entire book of Shoftim is based on this principle, where Ehud, Gidon, Yiftach, Shimshon (e.g. 16, 28) et al all went to war to retaliate against the enemies of Israel in defense of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. See also the Rambam, Hil. M'lachim u'Milchamoteihem, ch. 5-7. In those battles, fought on the battle-field, inevitably less civilians were harmed, because normal people (unlike Hamas terrorists) don't use their wives and children as human shields. Accordingly, they were usually taken captive, as was the custom at the time (e.g. Chronicles I, 5, 20-22; and II, 28, 6-8. For a comprehensive study with many sources, see the article on the topic by Rabbi Prof. Neria Gutel, at:
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