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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2006 / 17 Shevat, 5766

Not all's fair in war, Part II

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Guidelines for conducting a just war


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: What are some concrete guidelines from Jewish tradition for conducting a just war?


A: Last week we established the overall approach to war: war is not glorious or desirable, and Judaism is founded on a vision of brotherhood among all peoples. Yet in an imperfect world, war is sometimes a necessary means to realize this vision. The challenge is to carry out the means without losing sight of the ends.


In order to obtain more detailed insights, we need to go back to a principle we have mentioned a number of times: Our law often provides both a minimal, "lowest common denominator" ethical standard which we can never fall below, and also an ambitious ethical ideal which we strive to attain.


One prominent example is capital punishment. Jewish law legitimates capital punishment in a secular state, accepting that this drastic punishment may be necessary to establish law and order. But in an ideal Torah state, capital punishment is virtually non-existent. When Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was asked by the governor of New York for the Torah's approach to capital punishment, he began by describing the innumerable strictures which apply in the ideal situation, and only at the end added that if circumstances dictate then we may introduce a regime which is stricter, though still civilized. (1)


In war, as in capital punishment, the minimal standard is carefully elaborated in Maimonides code in the Laws of Kings. Some rules of just war are universal: presenting terms of peace before attacking, avoiding total war by creating a partially protected status for non-combatants, and so on. (2) Indeed, the very idea that there are laws of warfare, limitations on the freedom of military commanders and conquerors, bears a very important ethical message.


The ideal situation is obviously to avoid war altogether, but a more realistic objective for a war conducted with humane norms is the civil war between Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom) recounted in II Chronicles chapter 28. We find that abominations committed by Ahaz, the king of Judah, led to an attack by the kingdom of Israel. The justification for the attack was to restore Judah to a civilized way of life, yet the victorious northern army treated the captives in a less-than-civilized way. For this they were rebuked by a prophet, and repaired their ways: "And the designated men rose up and took the captives. They clothed all the naked from the spoil, giving them clothes and shoes, and they fed them and gave them to drink and anointed them, and they led the weak on asses, and brought them to Jericho the city of palms, to their brethren, and they returned to Samaria."


This is civil behavior in a civil war. Should we then act this way to our enemies? It depends. The mishnah tells us that prior to going to war, the Jewish army is lectured by a specially appointed priest. He quotes the Biblical verse, "Hear, oh Israel, you go out today to war against your enemies." He then explains: "They are your enemies, and not your brothers who, if you fall into their hands, will have mercy on you" as we find in the above quote from the book of Chronicles. (3)


When we are facing a ruthless enemy who will have no mercy on us, we must do whatever is necessary to overcome them exactly in order to bring about an end to ruthlessness and cruelty. But if we are facing an enemy who also adheres to basic rules of humane conduct in war, such as the Geneva convention, then the priest's admonition would have to be modified; since we are facing an enemy who will have a degree of mercy towards us if we are captured or defeated, we also should adopt accepted norms of conflict with them.


The idea that even something as inhumane as war can be conducted with some basic standards of humane consideration is well established in Jewish tradition. Modern agreements such as the Geneva convention mean both sides can refrain from unnecessary cruelty.


But to the extent that we face enemies who don't play by the rules, we must remember the priest's original admonition: to keep in mind that we are fighting enemies, and not brothers, and that these individuals will not display any mercy towards us. In this case we may have to adjust our norms in order to overcome the forces of cruelty and inhumanity. Yet even in this case, we have to keep in mind that the conflict of war is only a means to bringing about a peaceful future world where conflict is obsolete.


SOURCES: (1) Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat II number 68 (2) Maimonides, Laws of Kings, chapter 6. (3) Mishnah Sotah 8:1.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

All's fair in war?
Girth vs. worth
Is it proper to tax bequests?
Ethics of Being Overweight
Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics