Parshat Mishpatim 5784: Self-Defense and the Ongoing Milchamot Shel Torah?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Mishpatim is being sponsored by Baruch and Yaffa Swinkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Baruch’s grandfather Micha’el ben Yaakov and for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their return home whole physically, mentally and spiritually. To the Swinkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

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Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Mishpatim 5784: Self-Defense and the Ongoing Milchamot Shel Torah?

by Moshe Burt

There is a posuk in our Parshat Mishpatim which seems particularly pertinent to what Israel and world Jewry face in the multi-front war with Hamas and their wild beastly terrorist buddies in Gaza and multiple other fronts.

The Sapirstein Edition, “The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary” renders to English Sefer Shemos, Perek 22, posuk 1 and provides commentary:

“If the thief will be found in an underground passage, and he is struck and dies, there is no blood for him.”

“If the thief will be found in an underground passage” — when he was tunneling into the house. The commentary cites Leket Bahir — that the law of the verse does not apply where a thief is found not doing anything, or on his way out. It applies only when the thief is caught in the act of tunneling into a house.

There is no blood for him — This not considered murder because it is as if (the thief) is already dead. Rashi on Sanhedrin 72a notes that he [the thief] has neither blood nor soul and it is permissible to kill him.

Here the Torah has taught… — If one is coming to kill you, rise early to kill him first. And this thief is coming to kill you, — for he surely knows — that a person cannot restrain himself and remain passive when he sees them [one or more thieves] taking his property in his presence. Thus, [the thief] came with the understanding that if the owner of the property were to stand against him he [the owner] would kill him. (Rashi again citing Sanhedrin 72a)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (page 427) provides a more straight-forward explanation of Rashi:

Since it is obvious that a householder will fight to protect his property, it may be assumed that the thief is ready to overpower him and kill, if need be. Consequently, the householder may act on the principle that, If someone comes to kill you, act first and kill him. If the householder kills his presumed pursuer, therefore, he is not guilty of homicide since he is considered to have killed in self-defense. The verse explains this concept by stating [as the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders the final phrase of the posuk] that “there is no blood-guilt” for killing the burglar: it is as if he had no “blood,” for he had already forfeited his life. (The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash citing Sanhedrin 72a and Rashi)

Torah follows with Perek 22, posuk 2 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash with commentary (ibid) :

“If the sun shone upon him [the thief], there is blood-guilt on his account. He shall make restitution; if he has nothing, he shall be sold for his theft.”

“If the sun shone.” According to Rashi, the term is allegorical [adjective: a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; a symbolical narrative]; If it is clear that the intruder means no physical harm as it is clear that the shining sun brings healing to the world, then it is forbidden for the householder to kill.

Onkelos, however renders that witnesses observed the thief. Accordingly, the reference to a shining sun suggests figuratively that the event occurred during the day, when there were witnesses who saw the burglar (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash citing Ramban). Under such circumstances, he [the thief] would not dare to kill the householder because he would surely be apprehended. Consequently, it is forbidden to kill him.

So, what bearing do these two posukim have concerning this current protracted [adjective: drawn out or lengthened in time; extended in duration: a protracted and bloody war] conflict with the wild beasts of Hamas and other Iranian terror clients? As with last year’s vort on Parshat Mishpatim, this author can similarly ask:

Could it be, and this question could seem politically incorrect, that there would/could possibly be a notable exception regarding the entire analysis and distinction judicially between the thief prepared to overpower, and if necessary kill his victim, and the thief who would dare not kill his victim regarding personal bodily crime resulting in injury or fatality, i.e. the so-called “innocent” Gaza “civilians where a massive terror attack by an alien enemy endangering Israel’s national security resulting in over twelve hundred Jews killed and hundreds of Jews and other nationals brutally taken hostage? Where the attackers’ will is to kill Jews individually, or en masse with the aim of eradicating us and whose terror war against us, in all of its various dimensions, seeking our annihilation continues to this very day? This question boils down to: Is the ongoing terror war against Am Yisrael, particularly now in what is a long war of eradication of Hamas and Iran’s other terrorist clients comparable to a Milchamot Mitzvah with its separate Halachot?

This author now cites excerpts from a vort on Parshiyot Matos-Masei from a few years ago where Am Yisrael was to exact revenge against the Bila’am and the Midianites, and later, to go to war to expel an enemy who, if not expelled, could seemingly wage a long war of attrition against Am Yisrael as we face to this day:

Mahmoud Abbas Yemachshmo… continues to pay off families of terrorists who kill Jews. Israel, of course keeps transferring money to the PA.

Parshat Matos… relates the events of the legion of Am Yisrael going to fight Hashem’s wars against the kings of Midian and the evil Bila’am…

Torah relates both Moshe’s instructions and describes the legion going off to war, winning and the extent of the spoils:

“Moshe spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among yourselves for the army that they may be against Midian to inflict Hashem’s vengeance against Midian.” (Rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, Torah with Rashi Commentary,” Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 31, posuk 3)

Parsha Masei teaches us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe… by the Jordan, at Yericho” telling him to speak to the B’nei Yisrael and tell them (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Peek 33, p’sukim 51-56, pages 922-923);

“When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the Land before you…. You shall possess the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families…. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you. ” (Rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 33, posukim 51-56, pages 922-923)

Rabbi Artscroll (Artscroll Stone Chumash, page 923) then cites the Rashbam and follows with it’s own commentary;

Hashem declares that the Jews must rid the Land of the corrosive Canaanite presence, and If they fail to do so, they will suffer the fate Hashem had intended to impose upon the Canaanites, and be driven out. (Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash citing Rashbam)

Only in the perspective of Hashem’s wisdom can this passage be understood. No human ruler has the right to decree that an entire population is to be… exiled, but Hashem revealed that the Canaanite presence was incompatible with both the Land’s holiness and Israel’s mission on earth. History is the most conclusive proof of this, for the fact was that the Jews could not bring themselves to eliminate all of the Canaanites, with the result that the Jews were drawn to idolatry, debauchery, and were in turn periodically oppressed and finally exiled.

Similarly, the fact that “refugee camps” continue to exist in both Gaza and in Yehudah and the Shomron under the aegis of the “United Nations” and the “PA” festering Iranian and PA funded terrorism and weapons of terrorism is because successive Israeli governments have been too weak, lame and subservient to American will and world opinion to expel them, to even act to assist them in emigrating [verb: to leave one country or region to settle in another; migrate] to other countries. Moshe Feiglin, in years past, often spoke about the billions of shekels Israel could have saved had the government actively promoted the emigration of the Arabs in these “refugee camps.”

Granted that the wars fought by our ancestors, as cited above, were Divinely-Mandated wars, this author has often heard, including from HaRav Chaim Zev Malinowitz, z”l, when he spoke in the aftermath of Har Nof Massacre in November, 2014 (re: the 2nd point of his talk) ”pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell” analogy invoked regarding our security and sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael and today’s terror war against us.

And so, the Iranian funded and strategized [verb: to make up or determine strategy; plan] wild beasts of Hamas and their terrorist buddies in Gaza, and so far, to a limited extent Hezbollah, with help from Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen and quite possibly Jordanian have established multiple battle fronts and potential battle fronts in a war which Israel MUST Finally and Decisively Win, by the hand of Hashem.

May we see this Final and Decisive victory by our Chayalim, mandated by a government secure in it’s foremost service of and emunah in HaKadosh Borchu, B’Ezrat Hashem!

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.