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More on Pre-Emptive Strikes & Israel's Target-Killings


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 2, 5781
I would love to agree with this if I didn’t see Rabbi Bleich citing the Rambam on the issue. R. Bleich writes: “Hence the situation depicted as Milchemet Reshut undertaken “to diminish…” must involve circumstances in which heathens have as yet not engaged in actual hostilities but who’s aggressive intentions are announced and readily apparent” - words mean nothing in actual Halacha. No matter how many times Iran threatens or even prepares it seems that Israel cannot fight back.
As I wrote previously, just as we abort a fetus (as a "rodef"= pursuer) which just may (not even definitely!) endanger even 1 life (the mother), how much more so regarding 7,000, 000 Jews, do we not wait and gamble! The Rama paskens like the Or Zarua and writes explicitly that preemptive strikes against gentiles even for possible ("stam" = not definite) danger, not only supersede Shabbat (Or.Ch. 329, 6), but even justify sacrificing many Jewish soldiers' lives (the definition of war), and how much more so, justify killing the enemy (which is a mitzva, and not at all considered "murder" or a sin!). Where is the Rambam you claim that R. Bleich understands to contradict all this? All this is so much more true in modern warfare, e.g. a tiny State, as Israel was before the 6 Day War, where there was no strategic depth, & if you want to wait for the enemy to attack first, you have already lost the war, and irresponsibly risk the death of millions of our innocent women and children, and even exile (in the words of Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan at the time, "this could dangerously be the Destruction of the 3rd Commonwealth"). Apparently you misunderstood R. Bleich, because no rabbi would take such possibilities lightly, even theoretically!! Halacha does not take chances with such important issues, like state security. It is truly degrading and even offensive to the Godly Torah, to think that the halacha would childishly have the Israeli army stand with arms folded, and wait for the Iranians to first fire the nuclear bomb and absorb mass-destruction, relying on miracles to save us! Some rabbis tried this approach in the Holocaust, and it didn't work… There may be some rabbis in America who look at national halachic questions as if they were questions of individuals (where even then, even a doubt of a doubt of possible danger supersedes just about all other mitzvot). But all relevant and responsible poskim on such national issues, deal with State security, on a totally different plateau. To study the issue in depth, you must see the sources in my Hebrew article { } on how, the Nodah b'Yehuda, R. Moshe Feinstein and really everyone agree that Israeli State Security would even allow transgressing the 3 cardinal sins (as demonstrated by both Yael and Esther), something which is clearly unacceptable regarding saving the individual Jew, or even many (!) Jewish lives. The nation of Israel is not just a "gathering of individuals", but is viewed by halacha, as essentially categorically different. To understand the root of the issue, I strongly suggest learning the Kuzari (ch. 2), the Maharal's Netzach Yisrael and Rav Kook's Orot to get the proper perspective of what the Nation of Israel is really about, and accordingly, it will aid your understanding of the difference between many individuals, and Am Yisrael, and the severity of our security. R. Yosef Eliahu Henkin zt"l, one of the premier poskim of America, at first was an anti-Zionist, until he realized how much the State of Israel and the welfare of the Jewish People totally overlap, since 1948/תש"ח and forever more. This theological understanding, together with a brief re-reading of the history of the Holocaust and the 6 Day War, will accordingly also help you understand why (!) the State of Israel and Israelis in general, have sacrificed so much for the Godly gift called Israel, which surely should not be taken for granted, and who's security is not a game to be "gambled".
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