After the media attack has subsided, now is the time to respond to the two murders two weeks ago * The nerve of the criminals to wrap themselves in the cloak of zealousness for God is facilitated by the deep frustration of broad sectors of the population who are discriminated against by government institutions * Apart from punishing the criminals and educating about the value of life and human dignity , a Jewish vision must be outlined for the State of Israel, restoring our national honor *We must try to draw near and save transgressors from the sin of homosexual relations, nevertheless, the defiant parades against the sanctity of the family is in the realm of ‘to’evah'( abomination)
Two New Ambassadors
Two excellent ambassadors were recently chosen to represent the State of Israel. The first is Danny Dayan, former head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (‘Yesha’), who was appointed our ambassador in Brazil, the country with the fifth largest population in the world (more than two hundred million people), and the seventh largest annual gross domestic product (GDP). Danny Dayan is one of the long-standing ‘Land of Israel’ loyalists, dating back from his days as a key activist in the ‘Techiya’ party, is a full partner in the building of Judea and Samaria, and even became popular as one of Israel’s outstanding speakers in general, and of Judea and Samaria in particular.
The second appointee is Fiamma Nirenstein, who was chosen as ambassador to Italy, a country ranking 23rd in world population (approximately 62 million), and 12th in its annual GDP, slightly after France and Britain, but due to its high standing in science and technology, and its central status in the EU, Italy’s influence is very significant. Fiamma, who lived in Jerusalem for a period of time, worked for several years as an executive journalist, authored numerous books, and was recognized as an active fighter for Israel. She even managed to serve as a Member of Parliament in Italy, and chaired the committee for combating anti-Semitism.
In this regard, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzippy Hotovely are to be commended. Hopefully, these appointments mark a new direction in Israel’s stance and representation in foreign policy – a transition from a defensive and apologetic position, to a staunch perspective that attacks the lies, evil, and malicious claims of our enemies and their supporters in the West. A position that emphasizes the historical truth and justice of Israel, and presents the Jewish state as a country aimed at improving the world’s economy and society, science and ethics, in light of the Torah and the vision of the Prophets.
A Response to the Painful Events
Two weeks ago on Friday morning, following the two appalling events that ended in murder, I posted a response. I thought to expand upon the matter in last week’s column, but as I wrote: “Following the flood of enmity and hatred emanating in recent days from the official media establishment, I decided to postpone dealing with the subject until more relaxed and balanced times.” It seems that now, I am able publish the comment I wrote on that Friday, and clarify a few additional points.
It should be noted that at the time it was obvious to all reporters that Jews were the ones who threw the petrol bomb in the village of Duma. Today, some cast doubt on this. Nevertheless, I will reissue my original response, exactly as written two weeks ago, before the grave consequences were known in their entirety:
“Appallingly, in the last day there were two shocking and despicable acts of murder and attempted murder.
A man set out – allegedly in the name of the Torah, purity and holiness – to eliminate impurity by an act more horrible than all others, itself, the root of all impurities – premeditated murder. Thank God, his revolting scheme was not carried out in its entirety, and we hope that all the injured will have a speedy recovery and return to full strength.
Unfortunately, in the second incident of the Arab family, a baby was murdered and members of his family were very seriously injured – and who knows how much more pain they will have to agonize as a result of their severe wounds. Adding insult to injury, the perpetrators wrote graffiti on the wall of the house: “Long live the king the Mashiach forever,” as if for the sake of world peace in the days of the Mashiach, people must be killed in their sleep.
The truth is that in every society there are criminals, and public officials are obliged to deal with them. To this end, there are laws and government. But that these criminals have the audacity to wrap themselves in cloaks of zealousness for God and His Torah is made possible due to the fact that large sectors of society – Torah observant Jews, God-fearing and upright citizens, Haredim and Mitnachalim (settlers) – live in deep frustration and helplessness. They see how the government, State-run institutions, and media regularly discriminate against them and their values. This frustration is interpreted by the criminals as permission to carry out horrendous acts.
Alongside the standard education towards the value of life and the dignity of human beings, and vigorous measures against the criminals themselves, the time has come to “drain the swamp” by means of outlining a path and vision for the State of the Jewish people in its sacred land. Amongst other things, the State must act to strengthen Jewish culture, Torah study and observance in accordance to Jewish tradition throughout the ages, strengthen settlement in all parts of the country, and conduct a determined war against the enemies of Israel.
Most importantly, all this should be done for the sake of individual rights, but rather, as the duty of the public at large. Concurrently, to teach the value of life and respect for all individuals, and the freedom and right given by God for each and every individual to choose his own path, whether right or wrong. By so doing, we will draw closer the Days of Mashiach as written in the Books of our Prophets, and as our ethical path intended.”
Attacks on Arabs
Some argue that we are at war with all the Arabs, and therefore, Jews who attack Arabs cannot be criticized, for indeed, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: “One must kill the best among the Gentiles” (Mekhilta d’Rashbi, Beshalach).
First, it is important to explain that the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai were said in regards to an active state of war, as was the case when Israel left Egypt, or similar to the story of the soldiers in the convoy of the ‘Lamed Heh’ who, according to the account of events, while on their way to the besieged Gush Etzion, met an Arab shepherd and had mercy on his life, and after they continued on, he ran to alert the enemy. In the end, they were all killed and their bodies mutilated and discarded like manure on the ground. In another situation, that very shepherd could have hosted them with marvelous hospitality, and could then have been described as “the best among the Gentiles.” But in the time of war, he sided with the enemy against us, and therefore our Sages said to kill him in order to save our lives.
Still, the main point is that if we are at war, then we should be even more strict about guarding government instructions given via the Minister of Defense and the military command, because victory mainly depends on the unity of military operations, and accordingly, the penalty for breach of discipline during wartime is very serious, similar to the law of ‘mored b’malchut‘ (rebelling against the king) in our Biblical sources.
And even though on occasion, many people disagree with security policies, and often the claims are justified, it is a mitzvah and obligation to wage war against the enemy within the framework of the IDF, and the government’s policy agenda for it. Moreover, it is possible to say that Israel never had a perfect army, without any operational mishaps and moral failings. At times the army had more problems, and at other times, less. All the same, the mitzvah and duty to fight for the sake of the nation and the land pursuant to the framework of the malchut remained valid. And when we failed to fulfill this mitzvah, we were afflicted with terrible troubles. Therefore, when there is criticism of IDF policy, it must be voiced for the sake of improving the situation and fixing it, but all the criticism does not invalidate the obligation to fight only within the framework of the IDF.
Consequently, the status of one who kills outside of the framework of military operations or self-defense is similar to that of a murderer, who, in addition to transgressing the severe sin of murder, also harms our true war effort against the enemy.
The Terrible Frustration
I will briefly mention the causes of the deep frustration: the ban on planning and building settlements in Judea and Samaria, harming our ability to fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land), which is equivalent to all 613 mitzvoth in the Torah, and deprives children the chance of living near their parents in the communities they love and grew-up in; the prohibition of prayer on the Temple Mount; the turning of a blind eye to Arab incitement, illegal construction, and crime. All this is extremely harmful to our national honor.
How to Relate to People with Opposite Gender Inclinations
The Torah defined the sin of homosexual intercourse as “to’evah” (an abomination), however, our attitude towards those who transgress this sin should not be more stringent than transgressors of other serious sins, such as desecrating Shabbat which is considered a more serious violation, rather, to a certain extent, we should even be more lenient, seeing as many of those who stumble in this transgression do so because their yetzer (inclination)
overpowers them. And although they transgresses the sin of homosexual intercourse, this does not exempt them from all the other commandments of the Torah, and each mitzvah that they fulfill, such as Talmud Torah (Torah study), tzedaka (giving charity) or keeping Shabbat, has supreme, divine value, just as for every other Jew. They are counted in a minyan, and if one is a kohen, he is obligated to perform the Priestly Blessing, and if he reads from the Torah, he helps others fulfill their obligation to hear the Torah reading. And it is a mitzvah for every Jew to love even a person who sins in this matter, and help him according to all the rules of chesed (kindness) and tzedaka (charity) customary towards every Jew.
Therefore, whenever possible, we must try and dissuade the sinners from transgressing in this matter. Nonetheless, we must love even someone who fails to overcome his yetzer, and realize there is great value in every mitzvah he fulfills. Therefore, we should be careful not to distance them from the synagogues, so they can strengthen themselves in Torah and mitzvoth as best as they can. And, as is well-known, the value of Evil is limited, whereas the value of Good is endless. Likewise, the severity of sins is limited, whereas the value of mitzvoth is endless. Therefore, even one who falters in these transgressions, merits life in the World to Come thanks to his mitzvoth and good deeds.
The Abominable Parade
All this is provided that the sin of homosexual intercourse does become a banner raised on high. But when they hold public parades in the city streets in support of such sinful behavior, openly defying family values enshrined in the Torah, and rebel against the values of modesty which are the basis for the existence of a healthy society, they insult the Torah and Jewish tradition, and one who participates in such a parade is considered a “mumar l’hak’is” (one who transgresses out of spite), and all the laws towards him change. There is no obligation to show him kindness, and he cannot be included in a minyan. Indeed, he is still considered a Jew, as our Sages said: “Even though Israel (a Jew) has sinned – they are still called Israel” (Sanhedrin 44a), and the gates of repentance are not locked before him. However, after defiantly removing himself from Jewish tradition, he has distanced himself from Clal Yisrael.
Had the purpose of the parade been to defend human dignity and those tormented by harsh insults for various reasons, including their sexual preferences, it would be understandable. But when the purpose of the parade is to draw attention to a topic that even when done according to the Torah, modesty is fitting, and moreover, openly defy family values enshrined in Judaism and declare that the Torah prohibition is null and void – there is no more appropriate description of such a parade than that of the Torah – “a parade of abomination.”
It would be appropriate for State authorities to prohibit such parades as they violate Jewish tradition, alongside forcefully defending the life and dignity of every individual.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: