Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The Commandments to kill

Jew and Gentile alike have been horrified by Commandments to kill.

Yet, some religious fanatics have blamed that revulsion on over-sensitivity and assimilation to non-Jewish norms and sentiments. I will show that, rather, these zealots are motivated by an assimilated way of thinking.

Some anti-Judaics have given these Commandments as proof of the inferiority of Judaism, of organized religion, or of the superiority of the New Testament. Unfortunately, followers of the ‘turn the other cheek’ have left a trail of blood along the path of history. The Jewish Bible has a closely connected Oral part that explains that killing is horrible.

A major flaw in reading the Hebrew Bible is to forget that the text was to teach Jews. And Jews hate to shed blood. Any exception confirms this rule.

Abraham to Kill his Firstborn

So, when Abraham is commanded to murder his only son, he can only see it as a challenge to him, not a command. He plays along, never believing that G^d would actually allow this to happen. He calls His bluff. As he says beforehand: God will find us an animal [instead]. Abraham doesn’t lie.

Capital Punishment

Some crimes are punishable by death. In the olden days, the Rabbis were obligated to get together a giant court to see if the accused should be executed. However, they made the criteria for conviction, based on the Torah’s text, so great that it became practically impossible to convict someone to death. In fact, we learn that a court that would execute two people within 7 years (some say 70 years!) is a bunch of murderers!

Orthodox-Jewish trigger-happy proponents of the US death penalty are made numb by assimilation. All trials as done by US civil Law that lead to execution are simply state-sanctioned murders. (To put someone on death row for decades speaks of a cruel mindset beyond belief.) They are very far removed from the delicate Jewish capital crime trials of the past whereby the rabbis were looking for the minutest details to exonerate the accused. If some people really deserve death, G^d can execute them–no pressing need for us to do so. However, the crimes stay on the Books as a warning, to tell everyone that certain behavior is completely beyond the pale.

The Wayward Son

This is a gruesome Commandment that obligates parents to turn in their child if it’s completely going the wrong way. What a bitter lot. However, the Talmud already says that the conditions to actually execute such a child are nearly impossible to be met. In fact, it states that no child was ever executed for this. That these Laws are only given to be learned and warn us of the gravity of certain behavior. Then, one Sages says that he actually sat on the gravestone of such a child. However, it doesn’t say if he was only accused or actually executed for this behavior. My take it that the Sage only said this for deterrence. Which is clearly the whole reason for all these Commandments to kill.

To Wipe out Amalek

This obligatory genocide is given to Jews to tell this peaceful lot: you may encounter a people completely different from you, evil to its core, worthy of being destroyed completely. Don’t be naive! Genocide was never commanded.

In any case, the great Maimonides explains that we can let Amalek off the hook if it is willing to honor God, Jews, etc.

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments don’t say ‘Don’t kill.’ They say ‘Don’t murder.’ There is an enormous difference. Sometimes we are commanded to kill (see above).

But sometimes, we are even obligated to murder. The Tradition is so protective of our attitude against murder that we study this Commandment as ‘Don’t murder.’ Only in some readings in the synagogue, it is read differently: ‘Don’t … murder.’ The dots stand for: but sometimes you must. For instance, to kill someone swiftly before he is about to murder someone else. When someone sets out to murder you, you murder him first. You stop a terrorist, even if you thereto need to kill him. This is part and parcel to Judaism but we shouldn’t dwell too much on it.


Whenever the Torah wants us to kill or murder, it is always to warn us how bad certain violations are or to have us wake up how bad some people are.

The essence of a Jew is to abhor killing and to fight God against any decree on any person dying. In very bad cases, repentance is still a better option.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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