Saving Israel … Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award …item 2.. Chumash Themes #21: Wars of the Jews — We only fight those who choose to fight us. (May 3, 2013 / 23 Iyar 5773) …

Saving Israel … Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award …item 2.. Chumash Themes #21: Wars of the Jews — We only fight those who choose to fight us. (May 3, 2013 / 23 Iyar 5773) …
Bible Study Lessons
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Israel is beset from all sides. In the international community, it is the only country whose right to exists is still debated. Closer to home, many Arab leaders continue to call for its destruction. Inside its borders, Israel’s own Arab population grows ever more hostile. And now, countless Jews within Israel and around the world have begun to lose faith in the very idea of a Jewish state. Can Israel weather these challenges?
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……..*****All images are copyrighted by their resepctive authors …….
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…..item 1)…. Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End …

… Daniel Gordis … danielgordis.org/books

Winner of the 2009 National Jewish Book Award

danielgordis.org/books/saving-israel-how-the-jewish-peopl…

Israel is beset from all sides. In the international community, it is the only country whose right to exists is still debated. Closer to home, many Arab leaders continue to call for its destruction. Inside its borders, Israel’s own Arab population grows ever more hostile. And now, countless Jews within Israel and around the world have begun to lose faith in the very idea of a Jewish state. Can Israel weather these challenges?
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img code photo … Daniel Gordis, Saving Israel

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img code photo … National Jewish Book Awards Winner … Jewish Book Council

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In Saving Israel, Daniel Gordis offers a new defense of the Jewish state, asking first why Israel is necessary, and then discussing what Israel has to do in order to survive its enemies. Gordis begins with a novel discussion of Israel’s purpose, reflecting on the overlooked ways in which Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere. In the process, he grapples with controversial questions about Israel, Israeli Arabs, Muslims, and the International community that many Israelis and American Jews are loath to confront. Gordis lays to rest an array of pernicious myths about Israel:

… Jews in the United States could thrive without Israel

… Israeli Arabs just want equality, and Palestinians simply want their own state

… Peace will come, if Israel is willing to make appropriate territorial compromises

… Fighting and winning wars is antithetical to Judaism

Gordis suggestions for what Israel must do to survive, and more importantly, for how it must think if it is to have a future, are sure to arouse debate and even controversy. For Gordis’ book is a passionate reminder of Israel’s purpose, a celebration of what Israel has already accomplished, a renewal of faith in the cause, and a bold guide for carrying on the struggle. Saving Israel is a full-throated call to arms. Never has the case for defending the existence of Israel been made with such confidence, passion, and clarity.

—- Reviews

Few books can combine the sweep of Israel’s complex and extraordinary history with personal insight and passion. Saving Israel accomplishes this and more, it educates and inspires it readers while furnishing them with well-grounded hope for the future. Daniel Gordis has written an essential text for students, scholars, journalists–anyone concerned with the survival of the Jewish State.

–Michael Oren, Bestselling author of Six Days of War and Power, Faith and Fantasy: American in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present

Daniel Gordis’s morally powerful Saving Israel, from a writer whose reflections are consistently as intellectually impressive as they are moving, engages in an acutely necessary argument: that sovereignty has significantly changed the Jewish condition by influencing how we think. Gordis addresses the exigencies of our time with the urgency they overridingly demand, and with the depth of feeling they inspire.

–Cynthia Ozick

Daniel Gordis’ Saving Israel is an important book. Bold in his willingness to be forthright and politically incorrect, Gordis sets forth propositions which are difficult for many to accept, such as the fact that Israel’s existence is more important than peace and that Israel can never be a copy of the American style liberal democracy. For, as he notes, what is at stake is not merely a state, but the only Jewish State in 2000 years, and the very future of the Jews worldwide, including those who do not live in that State. Hopefully, Saving Israel will inspire constructive discussion and analysis of core issues that Israelis, Jews everywhere, (and the entire West) have studiously avoided for far too long.

–Natan Sharansky, Former Soviet dissident and Israeli Cabinet Minister; author of Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy

Daniel Gordis has written a book about the future of Israel that is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. His has consistently been, these past few years, one of the most engaging voices to have emerged from this time of trial for the Jewish state, and it is impossible not to be moved by his plea for hope in the land whose very existence should be a living symbol of hope.

–Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

One of Israel’s most thoughtful observers

–Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel

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……item 2)…. Chumash Themes #21: Wars of the Jews …

… aish.com … www.aish.com/jl/b/

Home » Judaism 101 » The Bible » Themes In Chumash
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img code photo … Chumash Themes #21: Wars of the Jews

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The Torah innovation of “battlefield ethics.”

by Rabbi Zave Rudman
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www.aish.com/jl/b/chumash/Chumash-Themes-21-Wars-of-the-J…

Deuteronomy – chapters 20, 21, 23, 25:17-19

— Introduction

Everyone knows that the most popular Hebrew word is shalom, peace. Shalom is the final thought of the Amidah prayer, and the final thought of the Grace After Meals. Shalom is emphasized throughout Torah literature, and it is said that one of the names of God is Shalom.1
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img code photo … video Chumash Themes #21 … Jewish Wars: Protection of a Mitzvah

With Rabbi Eytan Feiner

media.aish.com/images/ChumashThemes21.jpg

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The Torah, however, does not ignore the fact that war is a fundamental part of human events. In the Torah, we see four types of war-related discussions:

… The laws of warfare, as described primarily in Deuteronomy chapters 20, 21 and 23.

… Wars that the Jews are commanded to wage – e.g. the war against Amalek (Deut. 25:17-19) and the war against the Canaanite nations (Deut. 7:1-2).

… Historical descriptions of wars – both internecine and external – that actually took place. These can be found starting with Abraham, throughout the Torah and into the prophets, ending with the description of the war with Babylon when the first Temple was destroyed.

…Prophecies about war in the Messianic era, and the place of battle at that time.

To get a better understanding of the Jewish perspective on war, let’s examine each of these four categories.

— The Laws of War

When the Torah presents laws for behavior on the battlefield, it is primarily coming to address the urges that are released when the “dogs of war” are let loose. When people are expected to negate the most basic of human instincts – self-preservation – and immerse in the inherent repugnance of killing, many of the fine points of what makes us human and Godlike can be swept away. So the Torah introduces into human consciousness the concept of “battlefield ethics,” to prevent the army and its soldiers from sinking into a state of depravity.

One of the first such laws is actually the prohibition against using iron to build the Temple altar. The verse says, “Do not build the altar of cut stones, since you have defiled it but utilizing your sword.”2 In many ancient and even medieval societies there was an intermingling between warriors and religion. With this law, the Torah very clearly delineates the difference between service of God – which is holy and merciful – and the bloodshed of war, which must be kept outside the Temple.

The reality is that war makes one callous and cruel. Therefore, since God Himself commanded the Jews to rid the land of evil, God likewise promised the soldiers that they would retain their compassionate nature. In the words of our parsha: “God will have compassion on you, and reverse any display of anger that might have existed.”3

The Book of Deuteronomy offers more intricate laws of how and when to go to battle, and how to treat an enemy and captured territory. For example:

… Deuteronomy 20:10 states the requirement to try to find a peaceful solution to any conflict. The verse says: "When approaching a town to attack it, first offer them peace." Only if their response is negative are you permitted to attack. Even then, the army is to allow the enemy an escape route should they desire to leave the battlefield.4

… Deuteronomy chapter 23 emphasizes how the laws of purity and cleanliness are to be kept even in the camp. Since it is quite common that soldiers experience a general lowering of civility, detailed laws are taught even about the construction of latrines

In halachic terms, there is another issue: It is forbidden to study Torah in the presence of human wastes.5 So by mandating proper latrines, the Torah is ensuring that even in the army, the obligation of Torah study continues – to help maintain the spiritual level of the soldiers. For after all, Jewish wars are ultimately won based not on tanks and planes, but on spiritual merits.

… Deuteronomy 20:19-20 teaches the prohibition against wanton waste in the context war. Battle is always the supreme waste of resources – money, materials, and even human beings. To not allow ourselves to become desensitized, the Torah teaches that when using the trees around the battlefield to construct fortifications, do not use fruit trees that could be utilized for food purposes.

— The Eglah Arufa

Deuteronomy chapter 21 presents an unusual law: The Torah says that if a corpse is found on an intercity road, and the murderer cannot be found, then the community leaders are to perform a ceremony where they take responsibility for the misdeed and ask forgiveness from God for the lawlessness in their area.
This law is a fascinating lesson in the degree of accountability the Torah requires from Jewish leaders.

This law is even more unusual considering its placement in the context of the (seeming unconnected) laws of war. One would think that when a country is at war, and pillage and destruction fill the land, one more corpse would hardly be noticed. So here the Torah is trying to heighten our sensitivities: One may be obligated to go to war and kill, but we must not become inured to the value of human life. As Golda Meir famously said, “We can forgive our enemies for killing our children, but not for turning our children into killers.”

This is the Jewish approach. War may be required, but only as a last resort, and without losing sight of the damage that can be brought to the soul of the soldier.

— Commanded Wars

The second discussion concerns the two times the Jewish people are actually commanded to go out and wage war. The first is against Amalek, and the second is regarding the conquest of the Land of Israel. These two have fundamentally different rationales, and therefore separate sets of laws.

The war against Amalek is a reaction to an unprovoked attack on the Jewish people. As the Jewish people travel through the desert, immediately after the Exodus from Egypt, they are ambushed by Amalek. Amalek is not worried about the Jews attacking them, nor are they interested in conquering the Jewish Land – we were nomads in the desert. They attacked in order to show the world that the Jews are just like all other nations and there is no need to take seriously the miraculous events of the Exodus and the splitting of the sea. This wanton and brazen attack earned Amalek the eternal enmity of God.

But beyond threatening the physical existence of the Jewish people, Amalek was primarily attacking the lofty spiritual ideals they had introduced to the world. The Jewish people demonstrated the concept of freedom from human slavery and subservience to God. The despots of the world cannot allow that. So Amalek attacks this idea and those who represent it. Therefore, the Jews are commanded to eradicate this opposition completely and totally from the world. A human could not make such a decision, but this is the Godly wisdom: By espousing such contempt for freedom and human worth, Amalek abdicates its place in the world.

The second commandment is the war to conquer the Land of Canaan. In this case, the Jews must first try to accomplish the acquisition in a peaceful manner, with war as only a final resort. Under the leadership of Moses, and then Joshua, the Jews send missives and letters, enjoining the Canaanites to either leave the land peacefully, or to stay in the land under Jewish auspices.6

This commandment needs to be put into perspective of the ownership of Israel. God had promised the land to Abraham and his descendents as an eternal possession.7 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Twelve Tribes all lived in the land, but left temporarily during the Egyptian exile. When the Jewish people returned, they did not attack at first, but suggest that the usurping Canaanites return to their traditional homes. We only fight those who choose to fight us.

— Historical Wars

The third aspect of war discussed in the Torah is historical accounts of battles that took place. There are many, but it is interesting to note one specific battle that did not take place. In the beginning of the Book of Kings, there is a rebellion against the house of David. King Rechabam prepares to go to war against the rebels (see 1-Kings 12:23 on), when the prophet comes to him and stops the war. “You have no right to go to war against other Jews. This is not an enemy, but a brother.” Rechabam listens to the prophet, folds his army and returns home. The Torah is emphasizing that civil war is for only the most extraordinary circumstances.

The last aspect of war discussed in the Torah is regarding the Messianic era, exemplified by that immortal verse that is repeated twice in the prophets: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”8 There is no greater testimony to peace as the ultimate goal of Judaism.

On one hand, the Torah is realistic that in a world with enemies, one may need to go to battle. But war is not noble. It can be tolerated when needed. It must be directed to not get out of hand, and contained within Divine guidelines. We must keep the goals and dreams of the Jewish people firmly targeted toward bringing about a peaceful, civilized, God-conscious world.
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Jewish Pathways … Jewish Wars: Protection of a Mitzvah

video: 05:07 minutes

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The Goldhar School Presents: The Crash Course in Torah

Session 19 … Wars and Inheritance of the Lnad

YouTube video: 6:39 minutes

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1. Talmud – Shabbat 10b
2. Exodus 20:21
3. Deut. 13:18
4. Maimonides (Kings 6:4,5,7) with Kesef Mishnah
5. Orach Chaim 83:1 with Mishnah Berurah 5
6. Maimonides (Kings 6:5)
7. Genesis 15:18
8. Isaiah 2:4; Micha 4:3

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Yuriy Borshchenko

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