Ask the Rabbi

  • Torah and Jewish Thought
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Peace and violence


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

5 Sivan 5763
As a Jew I am concerned with all the passages of "fire and brimstone" and all the other violent themes so prevelant in the torah. While christitian theology talk of turning the other cheek, we talk of an "eye for an eye’. Help me understand?
How many passages of "fire and brimstone" have you discovered in the Torah? The Torah writes of "brimstone" exactly twice- one of the times as a description of the destruction of Sodom. Justice, however, is a major theme of the Torah. The Torah demands that someone who has put out the eye of his fellow man must pay him, monetarily for his loss. Would you suggest that the person who lost his eye "turn the other cheek" so that his tormentor be given the opportunity to take out the second eye? Christians have more often preached that Jews should turn the other cheek than practicing the advice themselves. When the US was attacked by Al-Queida terrorists, President Bush was unwilling, rightly, to turn the other cheek. This has not prevented the US from pressuring Israel to negotiate with terrorists responsible for the deaths of innocents.
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