Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Av 5766 - August 9, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
We Fight Cruelty with Chessed; and Fight Death with Life

It could have been nothing but hatred that motivated Hizbullah to attack along the northern border and take two prisoners. There was no action or event that provided any pretext for their attack — just their evident desire to murder and maim Jews, made so painfully clear in the weeks since then.

The political background should have held them in check. The current government, only a few months in office, was elected on the basis of a plan to undertake massive further withdrawals which Hizbullah has always promoted as victories for them. Vicious attacks are not the reaction that this policy was calculated to draw.

Since then we have been seeing viciousness and cruelty, and more viciousness and more cruelty. Hizbullah fires rockets that are targeted at noncombatants, and their weapons are filled with criminal antipersonnel shrapnel. Their cruelty even extends to their own people whose lives they apparently view as cannon fodder and mere public relations assets.

We must respond as we best know how. Our job is to discuss the aspect of the war in which we have our greatest expertise: the moral ramifications.

Almost thirty-three years ago during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Maran HaRav Shach zt"l addressed these issues in a talk that is printed in the sefer Bezos Ani Botei'ach.

He explained that every act that anyone does has effects that reverberate beyond the confines of the immediate act itself: a good deed can influence the world for good, and an evil deed Rachmono litzlan can have the opposite influence.

"In this time of war, we must be aware that the [effects of] the war are not limited to the battlefield itself. [A war] is an instance of "vatishocheis ho'oretz" (Bereishis 6:11), a time of general corruption when the Sitra Achra comes down and unleashes its powers of tumah that bring murder and cruelty to the world [on the battlefield] and the influence of this war and cruelty spreads throughout the world. These forces express themselves in an insensitivity and hardheartedness that touches every person. The experience of previous wars teaches us that even people who were originally, by nature, softhearted, made themselves insensitive and hardened their hearts under the influence of the cruelty of the fighting. Only learning Torah, yiras Shomayim, and doing chessed were an adequate shield against this influence. . . .

"In a situation such as this one, where cruelty spreads throughout the world, we must not stand apart. We must fight against and stop the spread of cruelty. How can we fight against this and what must we do at a time like this?

"We must know that against cruelty, we must fight with its opposite, namely, by increasing mercy and lovingkindness, and benefiting our fellows. Only these have the power to stop the spirit of tumah that carries with it the cruelty that is characteristic of this war. And [even] every thought in the direction of doing chessed is a counter-influence to the cruelty."

Some people say that we must answer cruelty with cruelty.

We say that is not our way. Doing so does not destroy our enemies but in fact strengthens them since it strengthens the powers that animate them.

They are promoting death and cruelty. We must fight back by promoting life and chessed.

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