Richard H. Schwartz
Vegan, climate change,and social justice activist

Jewish Teachings on Peace

“‘Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

Judaism describes a special obligation to strive for peace. The tradition commands that people actively pursue peace. The Midrash states that there are many commandments that require a certain time and place for their performance, but with regard to the mandate to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms. 34:15), we are to seek it in our own place and pursue it everywhere else.[i] The famous Talmudic sage, Hillel, states that we should “be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace.”[ii]

Concerning the special duty of Jews to work for peace, the sages comment: “The Holy one blessed be He said: ‘The whole Torah is peace. And to whom do I give it? To the nation which loves peace!'”[iii]

The Midrash employs lavish words in praise of peace:

“Great is peace, for God’s name is peace… Great is peace, for it encompasses all blessings… Great is peace, for even in times of war, peace must be sought… Great is peace for when the Messiah comes, he will commence with peace, as it is said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, who announces peace” (Isaiah. 52:7).[iv] Great is peace, for with peace the Holy One. Blessed be He, will announce the Redemption of Israel, and with peace He will console Jerusalem.[v] See how beloved is peace; when the Holy One. Blessed be He, wished to bless Israel, He could not find a vessel great enough to contain their blessings, except for peace.”[vi]

The whole Torah was given for the sake of peace, and it is said, “all her paths are peace” (Proverbs. 3:17).[vii]

It is significant that many of the most important Jewish prayers conclude with a supplication for peace. These include the Amidah (silent prayer — also known as the Shmoneh Esrei — which is recited three times daily), the Kaddish, the Grace After Meals, and the Priestly Blessing.

In spite of Judaism’s adamant opposition to idolatry, peace is so important that the rabbis taught:

“Great is peace, for even if the Jews were to practice idolatry, and peace prevailed among them at the same time, God would say, ‘I cannot punish them because peace prevails among them.’”[viii]

Judaism emphasizes the pursuit of justice and harmonious relations between nations to reduce violence and the prospects for war. The Prophet Isaiah proclaims:

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the

effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever.”

Isaiah 32:17

Yet there are many sections in the Hebrew Scriptures which justify war under certain conditions and discuss rules for combat. War was universally accepted (and often still is) as inevitable, and therefore a legitimate foreign policy instrument. God commanded the Israelites to conquer the land of Canaan through warfare and to destroy or evict the inhabitants. After the Exodus from Egypt, God is joyfully praised as a “Man of War” (Exodus 15:3). The Israelites are told: ”For the Lord, your God, is He Who goes with you. To fight against your enemies, to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) The books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings report many armed battles, some involving widespread destruction.

However, the general tone of Jewish tradition shudders at war and its instruments. God is often pictured as ultimately despising war and intending its elimination: “And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely.” (Hosea 2:20) “He [God] makes wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder; He burns the chariot in the fire. (Psalms 46: 10)

The Talmudic sages forbade the use of instruments of war for ornamentation or anything connected with sacred services. Concerning the Sabbath laws, the Mishnah states:

“[On the Sabbath] a man may not go out with a sword, a bow, a shield, a club, or a spear; and if he went out [with such as these] he is liable to a sin offering. Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘They are merely decorations.’ But the sages say, ‘They are nothing but shameful.’”[ix]

The Talmud regards the sword as the opposite of the Torah: “If the sword is here, there cannot be the book; if the book is here, there cannot be the sword.”[x]

To the Talmud, the true hero is not the person with many conquests:

One who conquers his impulses, it is as if he conquered a city of heroes…. For the true heroes are the masters of Torah, as it is said, ‘mighty in power are those who obey God’s Word.'”[xi]

The Talmudic sages teach: “Who is mighty? One who controls his passions,”[xii] as it is said: “Better is the long-suffering than the mighty…” (Proverbs 16:32)

The Torah forbids the use of metal tools in the construction of the Holy Altar. “And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones; for it you lift up your sword upon it, you have profaned it” (Exodus 20:22). Consistent with their abhorrence of war, the sages comment on this verse as follows:

“Iron shortens life, while the altar prolongs it. The sword, or weapons of iron, is the symbol of strife, while the altar is the symbol of reconciliation and peace between God and man, and between man and his fellow.”[xiii]

Because of his many violent battles, King David was denied the opportunity to build the Temple. He was told:

“You have shed blood abundantly, and you have made great wars. You shall not build a house unto My name, because you have shed much blood upon the earth in My sight. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of peace; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about, for his name shall be Solomon (peaceful), and I shall give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name.”[xiv]

Despite the great yearning throughout the Jewish tradition for peace, Jews have had to fight wars throughout history, up to our own day. The prophets realized the horrible results of battle. The following words of Jeremiah (4:19-27), written over 2,000 years ago concerning the conquest and despoiling of Jerusalem, could have been written about the aftermath of a modern war:

“My inards, my inards! I writhe in pain! The chambers of my heart! My heart moans within me! I cannot hold my peace! Because you have heard, 0 my soul, the sound of the horn, the alarm of war. Destruction follows upon destruction; For the whole land is spoiled… I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled. And all the hills moved to and fro. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, And all birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and before His fierce anger….For thus says the Lord: ‘The whole land shall be desolate.'”

The Jewish tradition does not mandate pacifism, nor peace at any price, although some Jews became pacifists based on Jewish values. The Israelites frequently went forth to battle, and not always in defensive wars. But they always held to the ideal of universal peace and yearned for the day when there would be no more bloodshed or violence, and when the instruments of war would be converted into tools of production:

“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”   Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3-4

However, throughout most of history, the world’s people have too often beaten their plowshares into swords and their pruning hooks into spears.


Judaism teaches that violence and war result directly from injustice:

“The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed, because of justice perverted, and because of those who render wrong decisions”.[xv]

The Hebrew word for war, milchama, is derived from the word locham, which means both “to feed” as well as “to wage war.” The Hebrew word for bread, lechem, comes from the same root. This has led the Sages to point out that lack of bread and the search for sufficient food make people more inclined to wage war.[xvi] Since the seeds of war are often found in the inability of a nation to provide adequate food for its people, failing to reduce hunger throughout the world, and feeding tremendous amounts of grains to animals destined for slaughter instead of feeding the grains directly to starving people, can create conditions leading to war.

Former Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon has stated:

“Hunger and famine will do more to destabilize this world; it’s more explosive than all atomic weaponry possessed by the big powers. Desperate people do desperate things…. Nuclear fission is now in the hands of even the developing countries in many of which hunger and famine are most serious.”[xvii]

Richard J. Barnet, a director of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies and author of The Lean Years, an analysis of resource scarcities, believes that the anger and despair of hungry people can lead to violence and spreading conflicts.[xviii] “Just as scarcity of food can lead to war, so can scarcity of sources of energy. A prime current threat to peace is the perceived need for affluent countries to obtain sufficient oil to keep their economies running smoothly.”

The Persian Gulf area, where much of the world’s oil is produced, has been the site of much instability and competition, which resulted in the Gulf War in 1990.


Judaism emphasizes that justice and harmonious relations among nations reduce violence and prospects for war. The prophet Isaiah states: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever (Isaiah 32:17).” The Psalmist observes: When loving-kindness and truth have met together, then righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psalms 85:11).

The Talmudic rabbis stress that justice is a precondition for peace: “The world rests on three things: on justice, on truth, and on peace. And all three are one, for where there is justice, there is also truth, and there is peace.”[xix]

According to the Jewish tradition, progress toward more just conditions, less waste, and more equitable sharing of resources, will reduce the chances of war and violence. This means working to change economic and production systems that result in waste and exploitation and keep the majority of the world’s people in poverty.


Judaism has very powerful statements about how one should regard and treat one’s enemies:

“Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles….” (Proverbs 24:17)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21)
God feels compassion even for the enemies of the Jewish people:

“In the hour when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea [while the waters drowned the Egyptians], The ministering angels wanted to sing a song of praise before God. But He said to them: “‘My handiwork is drowning in the sea, and you want to sing a song before Me!'”[xx]

On Passover, which commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, Jews temper their celebration of our freedom because Egyptians died during the Israelites’ liberation. This is reflected in two Passover observances:

* At the Seder table, one drop of wine is spilled at the recitation of each of the ten Plagues, to reduce our joy (since wine symbolizes joy).

* The complete Hallel, hymns of praise to God, is recited on only the first two days of Passover. On the rest of the holiday, only part of Hallel is said (because the crossing of the sea and drowning of the Egyptians took place on the last days). By contrast, on the harvest festival of Sukkot, the entire Hallel is recited during the entire week, because everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, can rejoice in the produce of the land.

Judaism does not believe that another person or nation need be considered a permanent enemy. Under the right conditions, positive changes can occur: “Who is the mightiest of heroes? He who makes his enemy into his friend.”[xxi] Judaism believes that forbearance to adversaries can lead to understanding and eventually to reconciliation. Many statements in the Jewish tradition point to ways of eventually establishing reconciliation with enemies: “Say not, I will pay back evil.” (Proverbs 20:22); and “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

The following story epitomizes the Jewish stress on converting an enemy into a friend. Samuel ibn Nagrela, a Spanish Jewish poet of the eleventh century, was vizier to the king of Granada. One day a certain man cursed Samuel in the presence of the king. The king commanded Samuel to punish the offender by cutting out his tongue. When Samuel treated his enemy kindly instead, the curses became blessings. When the king saw that Samuel had not carried out his command, he asked why not. Samuel replied, “I have indeed torn out his angry tongue and given him instead a kindly one.”[xxii]

By treating an enemy as a human being created in God’s image, entitled to respect and sometimes in need of help, we can often obtain a reconciliation. Based on a biblical verse, a Talmudic sage expounds the following lesson:

Rabbi Alexandri said: Two ass-drivers who hate each other are traveling on the road. The ass of one of them falls under its burden and his companion bypasses him. But then he says to himself. “It is written in the Torah: “If you see the ass of him that hates you lying under its burden, you shall forebear to pass by him; you shall surely release it with him (Exodus 23:5).” He immediately turns back and helps his fellow to reload. The other ass-driver then begins to meditate in his heart, saying, “This man is really my friend and I did not know it.” Both then enter an inn, and eat and drink together.[xxiii]

Philo, the great Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the first century of the Common Era, comments on the same biblical passage. He indicates that, by fulfilling it, you will benefit yourself more than him: he gains help [with unloading his animal], you, the greatest and most precious treasure: true goodness. And this, as surely as the shadow follows the body, will be followed by a termination of the feud. He is drawn toward amity by the kindness that holds him in bondage. You, his helper, with a good action to assist your counsels, are predisposed to thoughts of reconciliation.[xxiv]

The Talmud teaches: “If two people claim your help, and one is your enemy, help him first.”[xxv] This is based on the importance of converting an enemy into a friend.

Significantly, history shows that even staunch foes often later establish positive relations. Germany and Japan, both bitter enemies of the United States during World War II, are now considered important trading and military allies of the U.S. While there was talk about a possible nuclear war with China not too long ago, that country has become a major trading partner. The “demonization of enemies” is incompatible with both Jewish values and the lessons of recent world history.


Although Jewish religious texts frequently deal with war, Judaism does not glorify war for its own sake. The underlying attitude of Jewish tradition is an abhorrence of violence and an affirmation of the obligation to work and make sacrifices for the ultimate goal of peace.

The prophets speak of the futility and limited benefit of unnecessary and inappropriate warfare:

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In sitting still and rest shall you be saved, In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; And you would not. But you said: ‘No, for we will flee upon horses’; Therefore shall you flee; And: ‘We will ride upon the swift;’ Therefore shall your pursuers be swift.”   Isaiah 30:15,16

“Because you have trusted in your chariots and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, . . .”   Hosea 10:13,14

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, Nor is his pleasure in the legs of a man. But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, In those who hope in His steadfast love.”     Psalms 147:10-11

The prophets proclaim that Israel should not depend solely on military arms and alliances, but rather, “Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and her returnees, by righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27).

In an extreme circumstance, Jeremiah even urges the leaders of Judah to submit to Babylonian invaders (who he believed had been sent to carry out God’s punishment) without resisting, so that the Jewish people would live and continue to perform God’s commandments:

“And I spoke to Zedekiah King of Judah according to all these words, saying: ‘Bring your necks under the yoke of the King of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. Why should you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken concerning the nation that will not serve the King of Babylon? And hearken not unto the words of the [false] prophets that speak unto you, saying: ‘You shall not serve the King of Babylon,’ for they prophesy a lie unto you….”

“Hearken not unto them; serve the king of Babylon, and live; why should this city become desolate?   Jeremiah 27:12-14,17

While Judaism recognizes the duty of each person to protect his own life and to defend others from violence, it specifically prohibits the shedding of innocent blood:

Murder may not be practiced to save one’s life… A man came before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (Judah the Prince) and said to him, “The governor of my town has ordered me, ‘Go and kill so and so; if not I will slay you.'” Rabba answered him, “Let him rather slay you than that you should commit murder; who knows whether your blood is redder? Perhaps his blood is redder.”[xxvi]

Even in a clear-cut case of self-defense, Judaism condemns the use of excessive violence. The Talmud stresses that if a person being pursued could definitely save himself by maiming a limb of the pursuer, but instead kills him,” the pursued is guilty of murder.[xxvii]

Even when war is considered necessary, Judaism tries to minimize violence. When the Hebrews laid siege to a city in order to capture it, “it may not be surrounded on all four sides, but only on three in order to give an opportunity for escape to those who would flee for their lives.”[xxviii] Even in what was considered a just war for defensive purposes, each soldier had to make a sin offering, in recognition that any killing is an offense against God.

To emphasize the value of peaceful relations, the Talmudic teachers reinterpret Biblical texts to remove their violent aspects. The best example is the life of King David, the great hero of ancient Israel. The Bible describes David’s character defects and misdeeds in his use of power. The Talmudic sages, however, stress his creative and contemplative abilities rather than his aggressive characteristics. They prefer to consider him a pious, humble man who spent his time in Torah study and writing psalms, rather than a military hero.

The Talmud similarly recasts the lives of the Jewish patriarchs. Whereas the Bible tells of Abraham leading forth 318 “trained men” to smite those who had captured Lot (Genesis 14:14), in the Talmud these men are considered scholars.[xxix]  While Jacob refers to the portions he amassed “with my sword and my bow” (Genesis 48:22), the rabbis interpret Jacob’s “sword” to be “prayer” and his “bow” to be “supplication.”[xxx]

Even the character of festivals is modified by the rabbis in order to emphasize spiritual rather than military power. Originally, Hanukkah celebrated the guerilla military victory of the Maccabees over the tyranny of the Assyrian Greeks. The Talmud de-emphasizes the military aspects of the victory and stresses the holiday’s religious aspect. Not one word of rabbinic literature extols the Maccabean battles. For example, when the Talmud describes the “miracle which was wrought,” it refers to “the oil in the cruse which burned eight days” rather than to the might of the Hasmoneans (Maccabean army).[xxxi]

One of the Talmudic rabbis’ favorite statements was: “Be of the persecuted rather than the persecutor.”[xxxii] The following statement summarizes their outlook:

They who are reviled, but revile not others, they who hear themselves reproached but make no reply; they whose every act is one of love and who cheerfully bear their afflictions; these are the ones of whom scripture says: “They who love Him are as the sun going forth in his might.”[xxxiii]

Nonviolence has often found support in Jewish history. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, a revered teacher of the first century of the Common Era, is the great hero of Jewish peaceful accommodation. When Rome was besieging Jerusalem, he saw the futility of further Jewish resistance to Roman power. He secretly left Jerusalem and met with the leader of the Roman army. When the Roman general saw his great wisdom, he stated that Rabbi Yohanan could have any wish that he desired. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai chose to establish a school for the study of the Torah at Yavneh. Under his leadership and that of the many brilliant teachers who followed him, a national disaster that could have ended the Jewish people was converted into a new movement for perpetuating Judaism.

From the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE until the establishment of modern Israel, with very few exceptions, the Jews as a people never waged war. Without a government, army, or geographical territory to defend, Jews and Judaism survived, not through armed might, but through keeping faithfully to the Jewish religion and way of life.

War is frequently not a solution, but rather brings on new and greater problems. The great military leader Napoleon once said to his Minister of Education, “Do you know, Fontanes, what astonishes me most in this world? The inability of force to create anything. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit.”[xxxiv]

In a similar spirit, Chassidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov asserts:

“Many foolish beliefs that people once held, such as forms of idol worship that demanded child sacrifice, etc., have disappeared. But, as of yet, the foolish belief in the pursuit of war has not disappeared…. What great thinkers they [scientists who design certain weapons] must be, what ingenuity they must possess to invent amazing weapons that kill thousands of people at once! Is there any greater foolishness than this – to murder so many people for nothing?”[xxxv]

Another Jewish argument against the utility of warfare concerns today’s tremendously powerful and destructive weaponry. A nuclear war would destroy not only soldiers, but civilians, either immediately or later (due to radiation). Modern nuclear weapons have the potential of putting an end to humanity, as well as all other life on Earth. Judaism is very scrupulous about not shedding innocent blood and about limiting destruction; shouldn’t Jews be in the forefront of people striving for peace today?

Yet, can a Jew responsibly reject all possibility of violence? Haven’t we obligations to defend others as well as ourselves? Can we simply remain passive before terror, tyranny, and injustice? Shall we not defend human values when they are threatened? Can Israel, for example, fail to be militarily strong in the face of antagonism from many of its neighbors? Sometimes war is necessary, and a call must ring forth calling the people to their inescapable duty:

“Proclaim this among the nations, Prepare war; Stir up the mighty men; Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ Make haste and come, all you nations round about, And gather yourselves together; Cause Your mighty ones to come down, O Lord!”   Joel 4:9-11.

A pragmatic position consistent with Jewish values today is what Rabbi Albert Axelrad, longtime Hillel Director at Brandeis University, has called the “pacifoid” position.[xxxvi] He defines this as one who is “like” or “resembling” or “near” pacifist — that is, a person who works like a pacifist in pursuing peace, but accepts the need to fight if there is no alternative. This would include Allied resistance to Hitler in World War II, defending Israel against attack by Arab countries today, and responding to acts of terror.

It must be noted that the pacifoid position is not “passivism” — lack of Involvement. Jews must act in nonviolent ways in attempting to change unjust conditions. There have been many such examples in Jewish history. Perhaps the first recorded instance of civil disobedience is that of the midwives Shifra and Puah who ignored Pharaoh’s command to kill all male babies and saved the Israelite male children (Exodus: 1:15-21). The rabbis state that their action was praiseworthy because the law was genocidal and discriminatory (affecting only Jewish males), and therefore did not have to be obeyed.

The great medieval philosopher Maimonides held that Jewish law clearly allowed for civil disobedience under certain conditions.

“One who disobeys a king’s mandate, because he is engaged in the performance of one mitzvah or another, even an insignificant one, is relieved of guilt… and one need not add that if the command itself involves the violation of one of God’s mandates, it must not be obeyed!”[xxxvii]

May a Jew be a conscientious objector to particular military service, based on Torah values? The answer is yes. In 1970 the Synagogue Council of America, an umbrella group of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis and congregational groups, stated in a letter to the director of the Selective Service System (U.S. military draft), that Jews may claim conscientious objection to war based on their understanding of the moral imperatives of the Jewish tradition:

Jewish faith, while viewing war as a dehumanizing aberration and enjoining a relentless quest for peace, recognizes that war can become a tragic, unavoidable necessity. Judaism is therefore not a pacifist faith in the sense that this term is generally used.

However, this fact does not preclude the possibility of individuals developing conscientious objection to war based on their understanding of and sensitivity to the moral imperatives of the Jewish tradition. In other words, Jewish faith can indeed embrace conscientious objection, and Jewish religious law makes specific provision for the exemption of such moral objectors. It is entirely proper for individuals claiming such conscientious objector’s status to be questioned about the sincerity and consistency of their beliefs, provided they are not singled out to meet requirements not applicable to members of other faiths. It is entirely improper, however, to reject such applications on the false ground that Judaism cannot embrace conscientious objection.[xxxviii]

The Rabbinical Assembly (RA) (Conservative) made similar statements in 1934 (reaffirmed in 1941)[xxxix] as did the Reform rabbis’ Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in 1963.[xl] In 1971, the multi-denominational Synagogue Council of America expanded on previous statements to assert that selective conscientious objection to war is consistent with Judaism:

Judaism considers each individual personally responsible before God for his actions. No man who violates the eternal will of the Creator can escape responsibility by pleading that he acted as an agent of another, whether that other is an individual or the state. It is therefore possible, under unusual circumstances, for an individual to find himself compelled by conscience to reject the demands of a human law which, to the individual in question, appears to conflict with the demand made on him by a higher law.[xli]

What about people who are not pacifists but feel that a certain war is wrong? This became a profound ethical question when many Americans refused to fight in the Vietnam War because they felt that our involvement was illegal and immoral. Jewish tradition, which places great stress on the individual conscience, is consistent with selective conscientious objector status.

We must always question the basis and likely results of any potential resort to arms. Some questions that might be raised include: Is this really best for the people of this country? For the people of the world? Is there no other way to settle our disputes? Is this battle necessary to preserve our ideals and values, or is it to serve special interests? Are all the facts known, or have we only heard one side of the issue? Who stands to gain from this war? Could changing our lifestyles to become less wasteful and thus less dependent on imported resources reduce the need to go to war? Will this war really solve the problem? Has the possibility of fruitful negotiation been fully exhausted?

(A group that provides draft registration counseling based on Jewish values is the Jewish Peace Fellowship – see Appendix C.

Peace is Judaism’s greatest value. War is one of humanity’s greatest threats. Hence it is essential that Jews be actively involved with others in trying to establish harmony between people and nations, and in working toward the time when “nations shall not learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

End Notes

[i] Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 9:9.

[ii]  Pirke Avot 1:12.

[iii]  Yalkut Shimoni, Yithro 273.

[iv] Midrash Leviticus Rabbah 9:9.

[v] Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 5:15.
[vi]  Ibid.

[vii]  Gittin 59b.

[viii]  Midrash Genesis Rabbah 38:6.

[ix]  Shabbat  6:4

[x]  Avoda Zarah 17b.

[xi]  Avot de Rabbi Nathan 51:27

[xii]  Pirke Avot  4:1

[xiii]  Sifra Kedoshim 11:8

[xiv]  I Chronicles 22:8-9

[xv]  Pirke Avot 5:11.

[xvi]   Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, “Sanctions in Judaism for Peace,” in World Religions and World Peace, Homer A. Jack, ed., Boston: Beacon, 1968.

[xvii]  Quoted in “World Hunger,” World Vision 19, February 1975, p. 5.

[xviii]  Staten island Advance  article by Susan Fong, (July 1, 1980), 1.

[xix] Ta’anit 4:2; Megilla 3:5.

[xx]  Sanhedrin 39b.

[xxi]  Avot de Rabbi Nathan, chapter 23.

[xxii]  Rabbi J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs , London: Soncino, 1957, 501, 502.

[xxiii]  Tanchuma Mishpatim  I.

[xxiv]  Quoted in Rabbi Samuel Belkin, In His Image  , New York: Abelard Schuman Limited, 1960, 227.

[xxv]  Baba Metzia 32b.

[xxvi]  Sanhedrin 74a.

[xxvii]  Ibid.

[xxviii]  Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim, 7:7.

[xxix]  Nedarim 32a.

[xxx] Quoted in Richard G. Hirsch, Thy Most Precious Gift, Peace in Jewish Tradition. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1974, 8.

[xxxi] Shabbat  23b.

[xxxii]  Baba Kamma 93a.

[xxxiii]  Yoma 23a; Shabbat  88b; Gittin 36b.

[xxxiv]  J. C. Herold, The Mind of Napoleon (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 76.

[xxxv] Chayei Moharan 546, Quoted by  David Sears, Compassion for  Humanity in the Jewish Tradition,  Northvale, New Jersey/ Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998, 34.

[xxxvi]  See “Judaism and Peacemaking,” Fellowship, Jan-Feb. 1976, 14, 15.

[xxxvii]  Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melakim, 3: 9

[xxxviii]  Action Memo, Synagogue Council of America, January 1970, 1.

[xxxix] Shawn Perry, ed., “Words of Conscience, Religious Statements on Conscientious Objection,” National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, Washington, D. C. Also see Roots of Jewish Nonviolence, edited by Allen Solomonow,  Nyack, NY: Jewish Peace Fellowship, 1981.

[xl]  Ibid.

[xli]  ibid.

This posting is from chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, “Judaism and Global Survival.”

About the Author
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal our Imperiled Planet, and Mathematics and Global Survival, and over 200 articles and 25 podcasts at He is President Emeritus of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and President of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV). He is associate producer of the 2007 documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.” He is also a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island, which is part of the City University of New York.
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