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Commentary on the Torah

The book of Bamidbar

Weekly section Matot

chapters 30-32

Pinchas Polonsky

The ethics of the individual and inter-ethnic

1. The war-revenge

2. National Ethics differs from individual

3. Communicate with modernity: the Camp David Accords

4. You can not build a relationship with the Arabs on the basis of the principles of individual ethics

[one. The war-revenge]

... And when Israel dwelt in Shittime, the daughter began to Midyanskie seduce people, and they invited him to a meal in honor of their gods, and have become many of Israel to worship their gods. And the beginning of the sea, and died from the plague and forty thousand people ... And the LORD said unto Moses, Avenge midyanityanam for the death of the children of Israel. And the Jews went to war against Midian, and all killed, and all the settlements where they are burned with fire ... "(Numbers, ch. 24, and P1).

This action of the Jews can not be regarded as a defensive war; it was precisely revenge, because the military actions have been taken already after the Jewish story of seduction and idolatry daughters Midyanskimi Midyanskim gods ended tragically. But revenge, it would seem, it is in direct opposition to the commandment of the Torah (Leviticus 19:18) "Do not seek revenge or do not keep malice"?

[2. National Ethics differs from individual]

The point, however, is that the national ethics is very, very different from the ethics of the individual. For example, for a particular person it is a great advantage of the ability to forgive the insult inflicted on him and forget about the offense. But the king has no right to forgive the insult, and even if he personally would like to forgive, the Torah forbids to do it, because giving people the opportunity to freely insult himself king undermines respect to the subjects of power and destroying order in the country; so such behavior is immoral king.

A similar situation and we have to put up the question of allowing or banning the revenge. Private individual places is prohibited, but it is not only allowed at the national level, but sometimes even necessary, because this is the only way to preserve the existence of the people. It is known that the potential victim attracted criminals, and if we create in the surrounding nations the impression that we can attack with impunity, in a sense, we ourselves provoke their aggression.

The foregoing does not mean that the national ethics does not exist, that relations between nations should rule alone force. In contrast, the national ethics, which includes a positive attitude towards other peoples, respect for their common sense and to the achievements of their culture, respect for the divine spark in every person and in every nation - all this is an integral part of Jewish religious tradition. However, the national ethics can not - and should absolutely not! - match the ethics of the individual.

[3. Communication with modernity: the Camp David Accords]

Moreover, a man in all respects worthy and ethical as an individual, is capable of under certain obstoyateltvah - precisely because of the naive identification of their individual ethics with the ethics of the national - is absolutely immoral act as a leader. Typical examples are all of us loved and uvazhaemyyMenahem Begin. Being by nature a true Jewish-Polish gentleman, he tried to move into the international policy of their individual, for many years served him faithfully, ethical principles. Alas! The result, at the international level was the most disappointing - these are the Camp Devidskie agreement, which paved the way to the crisis of the country today.

[four. You can not build a relationship with the Arabs on the basis of the principles of individual ethics]

One of the most important causes of permanent crisis in our relations with the Arabs is rooted in the fact that we are trying to build our relationship with them, based on the principles of individual, not national ethics. Jews very quickly for some last hundred years, reborn as a nation. This national revival could not be any people in the history of mankind, and the dizzying success has led us to some loss of sense of reality. We want to be not just a living people, but ethical people - and, in principle, it is laudable desire. However, as the revival of the people we do not yet have the historical experience of life in the country. Even at the level of the country's problems, we still think in terms of individual rather than national ethics, and therefore it is laudable in principle, the intention "to live ethically," leads us to a dead end.

For example, to give up part of their land to poor neighbor is - at the individual level - honorable and ethical act, an act of mercy and charity. Such an act, under certain conditions, normally entail peace and good relations between people. And at the level of inter-ethnic volunteer (and for some - even with joy) to give a part of their country neighboring people is a crime, and it will, in the end, not to peace but to war, death and destruction. Even very cultural European people are not inclined to complacency in such matters - that we talk about our neighboring nations, are quite a different cultural level, and with a completely different mentality?

In Europe, those who are trying to bring back the Germans in the Sudetenland, branded as immoral "revanchist", and we have those who are trying to pass Judea and Samaria to the PLO authority Hagolan - Syrians (and not the past, by the way, in contrast to the "denazify" Germans , the process of "de-antisionizatsii") - are enrolled in the "high moral peacekeepers"!

Zionism was declared the goal to make the Jews "normal people in a normal state." But who can name at least one more such "normal" (in quotes) people who, reflecting the attack the neighbors, trying to appease the aggressor and then returning to it a springboard from which the attack was made?

Unfortunately, we must note that we apparently have to fill their many more cones before we can truly become a normal people.