William Hamilton

Bring Them Home

Redeeming captives. It’s an important mitzvah. We first meet it in this week’s portion of Torah. It’s among the first things Abraham does after he’s called. Before the covenant. Before the births of his children. Before all of these things, Abraham rescues his captive nephew Lot. That is, before arguing on behalf of Sodom, Abraham fights to free his family from captivity there. 

The revised number of Israeli captives being held in harmful captivity is 233. Listen and watch this moving plea for their speedy and safe return home. 

And, also this. A moral mindset has no difficulty expressing compassion and praying for the suffering of people of other faiths and creeds and supporting Gazan children through reliable agencies like Save the Children, as we do for our Israeli children.

On this fifth anniversary of the murder of Jews in prayer in Pittsburgh (add link to pic), it’s never been more urgent to be reminded and to remind others of how we redeem captives. Abraham instructs us with meticulous morality. 

Following his successful rescue of Lot and defeat of the hostile forces, he declines any reward. “I will not accept so much as a sandals-strap of reward” (Gen 14:23). The message could not be clearer. War is the worst condition humankind can know. If and when it becomes necessary, as it certainly is now, war can never be rewarding. 

It is certain that the barbaric Hamas killers of  October 7 would never have stopped their slaughter if they had not eventually been stopped. It is therefore our moral duty to stop them. And, in so doing, our most-moral IDF and security forces will make sure this is our only reward.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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