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Monday, 02 May 2011


Mannie Sherberg
Yael -- Agreed, on both counts: (1) Jews do not celebrate death. The Passover Haggadah explicitly states that we do not rejoice over the deaths of the Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds; indeed, we do not rejoice over any deaths at any time. We are -- and must always remember that we are -- the people who have been commanded to "choose life." As for the celebrations outside the White House last night, I suspect these were as much an expression of hooliganism (and too much booze) as of patriotism. (2) The NYT story is pure unadulterated bunk. To call bin Laden's death the "biggest national security victory in a decade" is to betray an ignorance of reality. We are no more secure today than we were a week ago. Bin Laden may be dead but al Qaeda is alive, as are bin Laden's lieutenants. Moreover, as far as American security goes, Hezbollah is much more of a threat than al Qaeda. The organization is firmly entrenched in South America, it receives aid from Hugo Chavez, and it is able to infiltrate operatives across the Mexican border and into the U. S. It's a safe bet that Hezbollah sleeper cells are now in this country, just waitng for word from Iran to wreak havoc on all of us. America is NOT secure -- and only fools and Obama worshippers (is there a difference?) believe otherwise.
yeshiva son
That's wrong, we do celebrate the death of the wicked. The Haggadah says no such thing at all. The Jews sang a song at the red sea when God killed the Egyptians. The verse in Mishlei (Proverbs) says "וּבַאֲבֹד רְשָׁעִים רִנָּה" - The downfall of wicked people brings joy.
Mannie Sherberg
Yeshiva Son -- Sorry to disagree, but ... Mishlei 17:24 says, "If your enemy falls, do not exult; if he trips, let your heart not rejoice, lest Hashem see it and be displeased, and avert his wrath from him." Moreover, I was taught as a boy that the reason we dip the wine during the reading of the Ten Plagues at the seder is that dipping is a sign that we refuse to raise a glass to celebrate the affliction of the Egyptians; the dipping, if you will, is a way of showing that we Jews are reading about an event that brings us no joy. Finally, there is a Talmudic passage (sorry,I can't put my finger on it at the moment) in which Hashem rebukes the Jews for singing a song after the drowning in the Reed Sea. The line, as I recall it, goes something like this: "My creatures are drowning, and you have decided to sing about it!" I repeat: Jews do not celebrate death -- even the death of our enemies.
Tom Glennon
I feel no joy in Bin Laden's death, but I do admit to feelings of Relief, Expectation and Anticipation. Relief that my family and friends who are in Afghanistan have a few less terrorists to face today than they did yesterday. I also expect both the Taliban and those affiliated with Bin Laden's organizations will, at least in the short run, step up their attacks on American interests. Certainly, with the huge numbers of Hezbollah sympathizers in Dearborn Michigan, we can expect some trouble as they will be angry over the death of their "martyr". However, that said, I anticipate that at least some of the potential radicalized Muslims will decide not to take part in terrorist organizations, as the mortality rate among them seems to be increasing. And that is to the good.
yeshiva son
As they say in yiddish, "zer gut gezugt" (you're saying good). The verse you brought (24:17) seems to contradict the one I brought (11:10). So I don't know, tzarich iyun (this needs further study). However, I don't know of a source for the idea of dripping wine to show that we are sad. I would be surprised if there was one. The Talmudic source says that God told the ANGELS not to sing shira - the Jews He let sing!
Mannie Sherberg
Yeshiva Son -- You're right: It was the angels, not the people, who were rebuked. But surely that fact counts for something in this discussion. If Hashem had been elated at the drowning of the Egyptians, would He not have ENCOURAGED the angels to sing? The mere fact that there was any rebuke at all strikes me as pretty compelling evidence for my argument. By the way, I interpret Mishlei 11:10 differently than you. The full passage reads: "When the righteous prosper the city exults; when the wicked perish there are shouts of joy." It doesn't say there SHOULD be shouts of joy, only that there ARE -- as happened last night in front of the White House. Perhaps I have been wrongly taught -- or perhaps I didn't pay attention to what I was taught -- but I am simply unaware of any authoritative Jewish teaching that Jews should celebrate the death of anyone.
yeshiva son
Well, the entire Song that the Jews sang at the Red Sea is a pretty compelling proof. We sing the song every day. The simple understanding of why the angels were not allowed to sing is that they were not oppressed, whereas the Jews were. Also, regarding the verse you quoted, the Talmud actually addresses this (megillah 16a): After Haman cut his hair, he dressed him in the garments. Haman told him to get up and ride. Mordechai: I can't, for I am weak from fasting. Haman bent down, so Mordechai could step on him to mount the horse. As he did so, he kicked him. Haman: Aren't you commanded "Do not rejoice in the fall of your enemy"? Mordechai: That applies to an enemy who is a Jew. Regarding you it says "And you will step on their high places." Also, the Talmud in Berachos 33a says "Vengeance is great, as we see that it was placed in between two names of God, as it says, "El Nekamos Hashem" - "God is a God of Vengeance." Also, this is from the talmud in Megillah 11: R. Yehoshua ben Levi would begin to expound with "And it will be, like Hash-m rejoiced over you to do good to you, so He will rejoice over you to do evil to you." Hash-m does not rejoice at the downfall of the wicked!? (R. Yochanan)Answer: "(Yehoshafat appointed singers, and) when they went out to war they would say 'Hodu la'Shem Ki l'Olam Chasdo'" (Give thanks to God, because his kindness is forever). 'Ki Tov' (For He is Good) is omitted, because Hash-m does not rejoice at the downfall of the wicked. (R. Yochanan) What does it mean "V'Lo Karav Zeh El Zeh Kol ha'Laylah" (They did not approach each other all the night)? The angels wanted to sing (this is like "V'Kara Zeh El Zeh"), but Hash-m said to them 'the works of My hands are drowning in the sea, and you sing?!' (R. Elazar): Hash-m does not rejoice, but He makes others rejoice (to punish the wicked). (Regarding punishing) it says "Yasis" (He will make rejoice), not 'Yasos' (He will rejoice). The end of the Gemara is pretty clear.
Mannie Sherberg
Yeshiva Son -- I was with you almost to the end -- but I simply cannot buy Rabbi Elazar's interpretation that Hashem does not rejoice but "makes others rejoice" to punish the wicked. I don't believe Hashem does anything of the sort. What I do believe is that Hashem gives each of us the free will with which to determine for ourselves when we will rejoice and when we will not. And I believe with equal fervor that it is Hashem's wish -- which He chooses not to force upon us -- that we will FREELY choose not to rejoice at the death of others, not to sing and dance at their demise -- no matter how wicked they may be. Many of my fellow Jews, I know, have chosen to celebrate bin Laden's death; I have chosen not to. I cannot and do not believe that I have thereby contravened Hashem's wish.
Tom Glennon
Although not Jewish, I fully understand Mannie's thoughts, and agree with them. As I noted, I take no joy in the death of an evil man, but do feel some relief that he can do no more harm. However, with so many family and friends still in harms way, I know that more evil will be done in his name. I can only pray that we will have the strength to withstand that which will inevitably come, and that good will eventually prevail.
Mannie Sherberg
Tom -- I share your sentiments. I believe the much-deserved killing of bin Laden was the right thing to do, and as an American I find it both fitting and gratifying. There is such a thing as justice -- and while this one killing comes nowhere near balancing the scales for 9/11, it was certainly a step in the right direction. If there is ever such a thing as complete justice, it will come when the very idea of jihad has been made a thing of the past. We are, unhappily, a long, long way from that. In the meantime, the thought that bin Laden himself can no longer do any harm is heartening. Now we must get serious about the many bin Laden wannabes out there, who have the collective capacity to do massive harm to every American. At this very moment, Iranian terrorists who are not part of al Qaeda but share its jihadi goals, are active in both Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to devise new and better ways to kill American soldiers. I don't think our government has given this problem nearly the attention it deserves, primarily because doing so would interfere with our peace-at-any-price policy vis-a-vis Iran. The administration is still, I believe, putting ideology ahead of security. This must stop, but it will probably take a different president to make it stop. At the moment, we can be sure of only one thing: The threat of terrorism, notwithstanding bin Laden's death, will get hotter before it gets colder.

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