Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fifth Commandment

Thous shall not kill

Israeli newspapers wrote on 8th of February 2011 that the police seeks to detent the head rabbi of the city of Kiryat Arba near Hebron.

The rabbi has expressed support to the book "Torat HaMelekh" where the killing of non-Jews is accepted under certain circumstances and on the basis of Torah. This book was written by the two rabbis, Yizhaq Shapira and Josef Elitzur.

"Torat HaMelekh" was published in October 2009 and right away Israeli police was requested to open criminal investigation on the subject. Suggesting that someone commits a murder is a crime in modern Israel.

Rabbi Dov Lior (b.1933) belongs to the Leibland family which is connected with the Polish Hasidic Beltz movement.

The rabbies explain Word of God to the people in the changing times. The applying of Torah to practical daily life changes by time. Already many centuries ago rabbies have found how to keep the Law without the required sentencing to death by stoning or burning. For example, brides that do not show sign of virginity are not killed by stoning anymore although the Torah so commands:

If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and hates her,
And gives occasion of speech against her, and brings up an evil name upon her, and says, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity to the elders of the city in the gate:
And the damsel's father shall say to the elders, I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he hates her;
And, lo, he has given occasion of speech against her, saying, I found not your daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
And the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him;
And they shall fine him in a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the damsel, because he has brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity are not found for the damsel:
And they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she dies: because she has done folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house; so shall you put evil away from among you.
5 Ms 22:13-21 KJV

Today rabbinic interpretation of Torah faces the commandments of conquering the Promised Land and the matter has suddenly turned into a burning actual question after being for two thousand years mostly a theoretical subject with the hope of returning to Jerusalem topmost in minds.

According to Dov Lior and Torat HaMelekh Biblical rulings can be applied directly to the current Amalek, the non-Jewish Palestinians to expel them from the Land and even by killing them when they are risk to security.

There are many other rabbis who do not agree with direct reading of Iron Age laws to the current political situation. Some are reminding their people about the manners and customs of Abraham rather than the fierce genocides in the time of Joshua, others are trying to find interpretations of the Biblical commandments that do not conflict with the values of Judaism today.

On February 14 2011 the newspapers told in Israel, that a group of intellectuals have demanded that official action since rabbi Dov Lior does not agree to come to the police station for interrogation.

They noted that this rabbi gets tens of thousands of sheqels monthly from the State of Israel as the head rabbi of the city of Kiryat Arba, as the director of the rabbinical court and has a school connected to the Israeli Army.

The intellectuals who signed the appeal demanded that police investigations the connections of rabbi Lior to the Hebron massacre 25 February 1994. On that date doctor Baruch Goldstein (1956-1994) shot to death 29 and injured 125 moslems praying in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

For Baruch Goldstein rabbi Dov Lior was spiritual father and the respected rabbi told, that Goldstein who himself was killed during the attack "is holier thatn the victims of Holokaust".

The letter continues saying that rabbi Dov Lior has also been mentioned in the connection of the November 4 1995 murder of Prime minister Yizhaq Rabin and his possible influence on Yigal Amir.

The rabbi is reading "raw" the Torah where in the Book of Joshua the conquest of Promised Land overrides the value of human life.

And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.
And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
Jos 8:24 - 28 KJV

The Jewish people have not had much time to think over the war commandments in the Torah that include truly genocidal sections, total war on civilians, and jihad like requirement to utterly kill the enemy, men and women, old and young. These very powerful Biblical narratives have not been processed in the same way as the law about stoning a bride that is not a virgin or publicly burning witches have been modified with traditional interpretations.

The process of interpretation and the process of taking possession of the Promised Land go on in religious circles influencing also the life of secular Israelis.