Kenneth Cohen

Kind to the Cruel

It is so critically important, that our values are learned only from the Torah. People foolishly believe that they are capable of being more just or merciful than G-d Himself.

Unfortunately, many Western values have infiltrated the thinking of many Jews. The Midrash Tanchuma teaches a valuable lesson that must not forgotten. This is the source for the quote, “Anyone who has pity on the cruel, will show cruelty to the merciful.”

There is also a verse in Mishlei that says, “When evil is destroyed, there is joy.”

The Sefer Hachinuch adds that when evil is destroyed, the world is a better place. In other words, the destruction of our enemies, is a merciful act. We want the world to function without the terrible influence of evil individuals, and evil concepts.

War is terrible because it inevitably leads to the death of innocent people. But the war that we are fighting for our survival, means that our people come first.

This obsession of not killing civilians, is a ploy to make Israel look inhumane. This is never emphasized in other wars. If it becomes necessary to drop bombs, to destroy the enemy, people will die. It is just so foolish and unJewish, to think that risking the lives of our people, in order to save civilians of the enemy, is praiseworthy.

Obviously, if we can achieve our goals, with less loss of life, that would be ideal. But in a war of survival, we must put ourselves first. At the end of the day, the world will still find reason to fault Israel despite its efforts. There is always a double standard when it comes to Israel.

Everything must have its source in the Torah. The civilian issue must not deter us in achieving our goal. We must destroy our evil enemy. That is the merciful thing to do, and that is what will make the world a better place.

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