In reflecting on the subject of the Israeli military’s use of Administrative Detention and the comparison by progressives of this behavior to the actions by Apartheid in South Africa, I started to consider this in the context of the decision in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 329:6-7, concerning a Jew who has reason to believe that a non-Jew is planning to attack them, even over property.

That the Jew is instructed to pre-emptively rise up and attack the non-Jew, even on Shabbat to avert the future attack. For details, see here.

That this principle seems to be the practical application of the concept of Administrative Detention.

That Administrative Detention is practiced by most nations today in one way or another to safeguard what is called “public safety” and civil society for the majority.

And in that context, is this obligatory (חוב לא תעשה) or simply a recommended positive act (קיום מצות עשה)?

That transgressing an obligation, a מצות לא תעשה, is generally different than failing to fulfill a prescribed positive action (מצות עשה).

It is, for example, a positive commandment to wear tzitzit during the day. But if you don’t wear tzitzit one day, you simply don’t have that merit on that day.

But if you wear a four cornered garment without tzitzit during the day, you violate the obligation.

With additional reflection, is this possibly something only incumbent on the Tzibbur? If so, it would explain the possible difference between individual and communal obligation.

I think of this in the context of a Jewish King who represents the whole community. המלך הוא לב כל העם

If the Sanhedrin hears a criminal case and cannot reach consensus, they have the option of referring the matter to the King. The King acts according to the welfare of the whole community.

  • לא תעמוד על דם רעך.
    – N.T.
    Dec 17, 2023 at 18:24
  • @N.T. Relevant, but the view of Shulchan Aruch doesn’t seem to be limited to life or death circumstances. Dec 17, 2023 at 18:31
  • 1
    Perhaps rephrase this question title so that it is clearly relevant to the question? (Also, I'd recommend switching out the word "obligation", because it is a very poor translation of מצות לא תעשה, though you translate it as such in the question.) Dec 17, 2023 at 19:06
  • @EthanLeonard Any specific suggestions? I’m open to modifying the text somewhat if it doesn’t lose what I’m looking at. Do you get the gist of what I’m asking here? It seems like a timely and relevant question. I would love to hear the views of the community on this. Dec 17, 2023 at 19:16
  • @EthanLeonard I’m understanding the English meaning of obligation as pertaining more to the idea of transgressing a prohibition. While failure to fulfill a positive commandment is more simply לא קום, like a missed opportunity. Dec 17, 2023 at 19:23


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .