Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Army and War
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson
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Translated by Hillel Fendel

[Ed. note] This question was asked some 16 years ago, but the message of its response is unfortunately still relevant.

Question: Following the Expulsion from Gush Katif, there has been talk of late of a possible need to reconquer this area, from which terrorists continually fire rockets at Israel. Must I, as a soldier, agree to this? Just because the Prime Minister made a ridiculous decision to leave, saying that we will return if we have to, does this justify forcing us simple soldiers to be the ones to carry out this dangerous and nonsensical policy? Is the value of "unity" within Israel important enough that I have to endanger my life for it? And why need we enter Gaza altogether; why can't we just bomb them from the air, and not have to endanger ourselves?

Answer: These are very weighty questions. You are right that the withdrawal from Gaza was essentially a gift to the terrorists, enabling them to fire at us easily. You are also right that in times of war, there is no such thing as "innocent bystanders" among the enemy. Jewish Law states that if terrorists are in a building, the structure must be bombed, without consideration of who else in the building might be killed.

On the other hand, if our government decides to execute a mission in order to reduce terrorism, this is a very important thing, and one must not refuse an order to take part in it. It is inconceivable that every soldier will decide for himself what missions he is willing to participate in and which ones not. The only orders we can and must refuse are those that negate a Torah commandment. Otherwise, we must carry out all orders.

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