Jews With Views

Opinions & Rants On The Jewish World

Jews With Views header image 2

JEWS and the ART OF WAR….

May 23rd, 2011 · 1 Comment




The Torah Laws concerning warfare and Jewish soldiers by R’Yisroel HaKohen

This May 30, is a national holiday called Memorial Day.

This holiday honors all those American servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country and fight for the freedoms that all Americans enjoy. It is our duty to thank all those past and present servicemen and women who served this country and for their sacrifices they made on behalf of all those who live in America and the free world.
It is a shame that Memorial Day often is not celebrated in the proper spirit of respect. Most people use this day as a day to go shopping for sales or to have barbeques. Very few people take the time to consider the significance of this day and what it means. They fail to realize how much blood was spilled in order that we enjoy the benefits that America provides to all its citizens. Therefore, we want to take this opportunity thank all those who have served this country in the past and the present. We respect, honor, and cherish their service for us all even though there are many who take them for granted.

As a small token in tribute to the servicemen and women “Jews with Views” would like to in the following paragraphs describe the Torah’s laws concerning war and the conduct of the rules of engagement that apply to Jewish soldiers when it comes to war and battle. We hope that those people who read the Torah’s perspective of the rules of conduct of war will come to appreciate in some small way what a serviceman or woman must endure. By writing this article we intend to salute and pay homage to our servicemen and women. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The Torah states,
“You shall not fear them (the enemy in battle), for G-d will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22) This verse obligates the Jewish soldier to be fearless in battle. Any Jewish soldier that starts to have frightening thoughts in battle about what might happen and starts to panic violates this commandment. When in battle it is forbidden for a Jewish soldier to flee from the enemy and the Jewish soldier must strengthen himself and stand firm against the enemy as the verse says,
“Hear O Israel today you are coming near to the battle against your enemies;
let not your heart be faint, do not be afraid, do not panic, and do not be broken before them.” (Deuteronomy 20:3) The Rambam says that one is in violation of this commandment if one becomes frightened because he lets his mind dwell on the dangers of war (Rambam, Laws of Kings 7:15). The Jewish soldier is not allowed to be afraid inwardly, panic and flee from the enemy, or allow himself to become broken. The law does not demand the impossible. The average person will become afraid in battle, but soldiers should try to avoid fear by not focusing on the dangers awaiting them. Instead they should train their minds on the fact that the enemy comes with human power, but the Jewish soldier comes with G-d’s power and anything is possible for G-d. G-d is Israel’s warrior and he would save them. With this promise Jewish soldiers could go into battle with full confidence that they would not suffer the casualties that are normal even in victory.
The source for this commandment is that every Jew, whether a soldier or civilian is required to place his trust in G-d in all matters. A Jew should never fear for his life in those situations where he can bring honor to G-d and the Jewish Nation by demonstrating to the world that Jews are fearless because they trust in G-d. A Jewish soldier should not be concerned for his wife, his children, or his finances when engaged in battle. He should free his mind from all worries and focus on the battle alone. The Jewish soldier should think about the fact that the lives of every Jew are dependent upon his performance in battle. The Jewish soldier should realize that if he panics in battle and flees before the enemy it is as if he has spilt the blood of all Israel because this leads to defeat and defeat allows the enemy to kill other Jews. If one soldier panics he could insight panic in all his fellow soldiers and could cause all of the soldiers to flee before the enemy which could lead to defeat and harm to the Jewish People as the verse says, “Let not (the fearful soldier) melt the heart of his fellow soldiers, like his own heart (has become) (Deuteronomy 20:8) The prophet Jeremiah warned about a panic stricken soldier as follows, “Cursed is one who does the work of G-d negligently and cursed is one be who withholds his sword from blood (and does not have the courage to attack and kill the enemy in war)” (Jeremiah 48;10).
Our sages tell us that whoever fights the enemies of Israel in battle with all his heart with the intention of sanctifying the Name of G-d he is guaranteed not be harmed, he will also merit that his children will establish a lasting and proper house in Israel, and he will merit the world to come as the verse says, “G-d will certainly establish a lasting dynasty for my master (King David) … for my master (King David) wages G-d’s battles and no evil will ever be found in you” (Samuel 1 25:28)
The Torah guarantees that if the Jews observe the Torah that they will be victorious in battle in a miraculous way as the verse says, “You will pursue your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will pursue a hundred and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand and your enemies will fall before you by the sword” (Leviticus 26:7-8) (This actually occurred during the Israeli Six Days War in 1967)
Before the Jews approach the battle they are to appoint officers to lead the soldiers into battle. They also are to appoint strong and powerfully built military police officers who are positioned behind the ranks of battle who are equipped with heavy axes. The purpose of these military police officers is to chop off the legs of any soldier who retreats without orders from fright of the enemy because defeat starts with unauthorized flight from the enemy.
Before Israel goes to war, it must give its enemy an opportunity to make peace. Those enemies that do agree to make peace were required to pay taxes to Israel, obligate themselves to perform national service for the Jews, and accept the Seven Noahide Laws.
War by definition is destructive. However, the Torah demands that Jewish soldiers remain conscious of the need to maintain their regard for the general welfare of society and cleave to their love of goodness and decency. If people try to remain good even at times that call for them to commit acts of bloodshed and to murder the enemy they will be able to perfect their character. Therefore, in war, the Torah permits the killing of enemy soldiers, but a fruit tree is not a soldier; why should the Jews deprive anyone from benefitting from its fruit by destroying it. In addition, a Jew, whether he is a soldier or civilian is forbidden to destroy any useful thing needlessly such as destroying useful clothing, utensils, fields, property etc. The Torah does permit the chopping down of non-fruit trees. If the Jewish soldier will have regard for a fruit tree or other useful items while in the midst of battle this will help keep the Jewish soldier balanced and enable him to retain his humanity. He is only allowed to destroy what is necessary for the war, such as the enemy, but nothing else.
The Torah requires that the Jewish home and military encampment be a place of holiness and sanctity. Therefore, it is forbidden for Jewish soldiers to relieve themselves within the camp, a field within the encampment, or any arbitrary place. Therefore, the officers must designate a place outside the camp where soldiers can defecate to relieve themselves. In addition, every Jewish soldier must be equipped with a shovel so when they relieve themselves they are required to dig a hole to bury and cover over their excrement (Rambam Laws of Kings 6:14-15)
Jewish soldiers are permitted to eat non-kosher foods, even pig’s meat if they are hungry and there is no other kosher food available. (Rambam, Laws of Kings 8:1)
There are many other laws involving war and Jewish soldiers but we have listed here only the main laws concerning warfare.
By writing this brief list of laws about Jewish soldiers and warfare we hope to have enlightened and paid tribute to our soldiers who have sacrificed so much for our benefit and for the benefit of the world. We thank and appreciate all that you have done!

BiBi Netanyahu’s Full Address At AIPAC 2011 from Edward Schwartz on Vimeo.



Tags: Commentary & Opinion · JEWISH LOVE · Jewish World & History · Missionary attacks · Parasha & Religion

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 DACON9 // May 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm


Leave a Comment