The IDF created a 47-minute film based on raw footage of the evil and brutal 2023 Hamas massacre - Bearing Witness. Reports indicate that it is one of the most graphic and gruesome films ever made.

My understanding is that the IDF controls who sees the film. Certainly, in the early stages, very few were showed the film. Upon information and belief not every IDF soldier has been given an opportunity to see the film. In the end, I respect and defer to the IDF's decision.

Is it halachically appropriate for the IDF to widely disseminate the film (an appropriate rating- adults can choose to see it) based on the following:

Shoftim - 19:29-30 וַיָּבֹ֣א אֶל־בֵּית֗וֹ וַיִּקַּ֤ח אֶת־הַֽמַּאֲכֶ֙לֶת֙ וַיַּחֲזֵ֣ק בְּפִֽילַגְשׁ֔וֹ וַֽיְנַתְּחֶ֙הָ֙ לַעֲצָמֶ֔יהָ לִשְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר נְתָחִ֑ים וַֽיְשַׁלְּחֶ֔הָ בְּכֹ֖ל גְּב֥וּל יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ When he came home, he picked up a knife, and took hold of his concubine and cut her up limb by limb into twelve parts. He sent them throughout the territory of Israel.
וְהָיָ֣ה כׇל־הָרֹאֶ֗ה וְאָמַר֙ לֹֽא־נִהְיְתָ֤ה וְלֹֽא־נִרְאֲתָה֙ כָּזֹ֔את לְמִיּ֞וֹם עֲל֤וֹת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה שִׂימוּ־לָכֶ֥ם עָלֶ֖יהָ עֻ֥צוּ וְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃ {פ} And everyone who saw it cried out, “Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day! Put your mind to this; take counsel and decide.”

When members of Shevet Binyamin violated and killed a man's concubine, in order to raise awareness and galvanize/mobilize Yisrael he provided direct evidence of the crime to the farthest reaches of Yisrael, making no attempt to control/conceal who saw what. The man was not chastised for his actions - on the contrary, he rallied the amassing Jewish army that sought and got retribution for the act. His direct evidence was the lynchpin in impassioning the Jewish army.

Many holocaust films depict carnage and death and are available to the masses as an important tool in setting the record straight and documenting the reality of heinous inhumanity.

Is Pilegesh B'Givah a valid precedent for the broad dissemination of this film? if so, how broad? IDF only? Israelis? Jewish community at large? After all, the film is named "Bearing Witness." Who should be the witnesses?

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    It's hard to imagine anything in Pilegesh B'givah being used as role model for anything
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 11 at 13:06
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    Yeah. It's one massive horror story to drive home the point that they needed a stronger central government. It's proof that there can certainly be a natural reaction to push out the most grotesque imagery possible ... but just because we want to do something doesn't make it right.
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 11 at 13:59
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    I disagree with comments. Au contraire - P'Giva was a necessary mobilization to eradicate evil - a worthy and paradigmatic example worth learning from. Per the Midrash (quoted by Radak) the Jewish zealousness expressed at the war should have been wielded more often ... וישחיתו בישראל. אמרו כי העונש הזה היה לישראל בעון פסל מיכה שהיה בימים ההם כמו שפירשתי והנה קנאו לדבר פלגש בגבעה ולא קנאו לפסל מיכה והיה להם לקנא ולעלות עליו למלחמה ולבער הפסל מישראל. The lynchpin was the evidence of the crime, which was widely circulated. This is what had people saying - "I have never seen anything like this!"
    – GratefulD
    Commented Feb 12 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


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The Ralbag (End of Shoftim) states that in order to best motivate others - one should get people to see things with their own eyes ... I realize that this only answers part of the question - is P"Giva in general a valid precedent to learn from? Yes.

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    Nice source for the general concept... now for the rest? "Is Pilegesh B'Givah a valid precedent for the broad dissemination of this film? if so, how broad? IDF only? Israelis? Jewish community at large? After all, the film is named "Bearing Witness." Who should be the witnesses?" Commented Feb 12 at 12:34
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    @ Deuteronomy. Thx. Agreed.
    – GratefulD
    Commented Feb 12 at 12:37

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