Kenneth Cohen

Jews Defend Yourselves

The Torah discusses various types of thieves. There is the thief who steals in a sneaky and cunning fashion. And there are also the armed robbers that steal with force. The first is called a גנב, and the second, a גזלן.

The Torah also describes the thief who with his audacity, robs knowing that the residents are home, during his break-in. The assumption is that he is armed and will kill the residents if they pose a threat to him.

From this incident, we learn an important principle of self defense. The homeowner has the right to preempt the potential attacker, and kill him first. This is the source for, “If one comes to slay you, slay him first.”

This is the way that Jews are meant to conduct themselves for their survival. When one’s life is threatened, he must not take chances with his life. He must protect himself in any way that he can.

It is absurd to think that we receive some kind of Divine reward, for allowing ourselves to put our lives in danger, when we could have eliminated our attacker.
Hopefully, we are waking up and realizing that the Torah’s rule for self defense, is the correct one. We should see an end to Jews needlessly giving their lives, when they could have fought back.

We must remember this simple rule, that if one comes to slay us, we must slay him first.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at