Rabbi Meir Kahane
The Jewish Idea (Or Hara’ayon)
WAR AND PEACE (Excerpts)
“I will grant peace in the land” (Lev.26.6): Perhaps you will say, “Well, there is food and there is drink, but if there is no peace then all this is nothing!” Scripture therefore states, “I will grant peace in the land” This teaches that peace counterbalances everything.
Its likewise says (Isaiah 45.7), “I will make peace and create evil.” This teaches that peace counterbalances everything. (See Bamidar Rabbah, 11:5-6)
Since peace is limited to its own time, it follows that in wartime all traits associated with love, kindness and mercy are redefined. It is then kind and merciful to go to war against the wicked. Our sages teach (Kohelet Rabbah, 3:1):
There is “a time to kill” – during war; “and a time to heal” – during peace. There is “a time to break down” – during war; “and a time to build up” – during peace – There is “a time to seek” – during peace; “and a time to lose” – during war. There is “a time to rend” – during war “ and a time to sew” – during peace…There is “a time to love”- during peace; “ and a time to hate” – during war. There is “a time for war” – during war; “and a time for peace” – during peace.
The word of the Living G-d! And how relevant they are to our day: there is a time for war – during war; and a time for peace during peace. We might ask why Scriptures must tell us that there is a time for war. Might anyone think otherwise? Our sages were teaching that, in fact, some might really think so, especially with the insane, alien culture holding portions of our people captive in its sullied hands. Above I quoted Tanchuma, Shoftim15:
“When you go forth to battle against your enemies (Deut.20:1)… What is meant by “against your enemies”? G-d said, “Confront them as enemies. Just as they show you no mercy, so should you not show them any mercy.”
We have to realize that the non-Jew who goes to war against Israel is our enemy and not our friend. How unaware people are nowadays of this simple yet profound principle! Our sages also said (Sifri Shoftim 192):
You are going to war against your enemies and not against your brethren. It is not Judah against Simeon or Simeon against Judah such that if you fall captive they will have mercy on you…It is against your enemies that you are waging war. If you fall into their hands, they will show you no mercy.
Indeed, a timely war is a mitzvah, a duty, a kindness and an everlasting act of righteousness. Ex.24:6, which enumerates G-d’s attributes, ends by mentioning “truth”: The L-rd, the L-rd, Omnipotent, merciful and kind, slow to anger, with tremendous resources of love and truth.” I have already explained that there cannot be “mercy, kindness and tremendous resources of love,” without “truth.” We often find the combination of “kindness and truth,” to teach us that that same Deity who is “merciful, kind and loving,” is above all else a G-d of truth.
Likewise, G-d is described as follows (Ex.15:3): “The L-rd is the Master of war, ‘Hashem’ is His name.” Despite His name being “Hashem,” a name indicating mercy, He is still “Master of war.” That same Hashem of mercy is also a Master of war against the wicked. All this is the plain truth. There is a time for war and cruelty and a time for mercy, kindness and clemency. It all depends on G-d’s laws, the laws of war by the Master of war. Our sages said (Mechilta,Ibid): “The L-rd is the Master of war, Hashem is His name:
Our sages teach us a great lesson here regarding love for one’s fellow Jew and the duty one bears to him: It is not enough for a Jew not to murder. Surely, “Turn away from evil” (Ps.34:15) applies here, but a much weightier duty applies too: he must do all he can to save his fellow Jew from danger, to eradicate every danger and mishap, to defeat every foe who imperils the Jewish People before he can harm them.
A non-Jew who tries to attack or kill a Jew must be punished, and if that non-Jew flees to save himself from punishment, it clearly is not just permissible but a mitzvah and duty to shoot to kill him. Whoever opposes this and orders that the enemy be allowed to flee, thereby enabling him to return later and kill Jews, will never be able to rise up and proclaim, “My hands have not spilled this blood.” He is aiding a rodef, is allied to murderers of Jews, and should be treated like a criminal
(Moreover, such non-Jews not only fail to accept upon themselves taxes, slave status, and G-d’s and Israel’s sovereignty over the Land, but they declare war on the Jews, attacking and murdering us. We are duty-bound to wage a milchemet mitzvah against them, a compulsory war, and they deserve death, as I shall write below.)
King David said (Ps 9:17), “The L-rd has made Himself known. He has executed judgment.” That is, the nations will know G-d and His glory only when he executes judgment in His war against them.
He also said (Ps 24:8), “Who is the King of glory? The L-rd strong and mighty, He is mighty in battle.” The wars Israel was commanded to wage were not meant to satisfy any selfish urge on their part, any craving for land or desire for personal glory, but to sanctify G-d’s name and cast down the wicked, who plunder and afflict the upright. Just as every part of Israel’s life must be holy, so must be their wars.
Due to our sins, the reason we were exiled from our land, the laws of war, have been so corrupted and confused by so many fine students that ignorance on this matter has surpassed all limits. Some have no understanding whatsoever of what a milchemet mitzvah is, and in their blindness ask whether the war between us and the Arabs today is such a war. Woe, to the ears that hear this!
Rambam writes (Hilchot Melachim 5:1) In a milchemet mitzvah, the king need not obtain permission of the court. Rather, he may go forth himself at any time and compel the people to follow. With milchemet reshut, howoever, he may only compel the people through a court of seventy-one.
Here is the law before us. Clearly, no king is needed either. After all, the judges who preceded Saul were not kings nor were the Hasmoneans when they rose up against the Greeks. How long can our disgraceful ignorance of these laws go on?-
Holiness and knowledge of G-d elevate a person from bestiality, fear and confinement to trust in G-d. Kiddush Hashem brings the redemption “speedily.”
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