Recent missiles sent by Hamas landed in Hebron. When my neighbor told me about this, it was unclear whether they had hurt any Arab civilians. I said that I hoped not, while my neighbor basically said that she hoped yes, and would be very happy if that was the case.

My question is, according to Torah hashkafa, is there a correct emotion to feel upon hearing about enemy civilian deaths (whether inflicted by the IDF or Palestinians), and, if so, what is it?

I'm not asking about the legitimacy of the Israeli army carrying out operations that will inevitably kill Arab civilians. I want to know if it is correct and appropriate to feel sad for them, or if this feeling is in any way misplaced.

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    I've always been under the impression that we do not rejoice at the death of enemy combatants. Should this not be more strongly adhered to for non-combatants? They most certainly are people and deserve compassion. – Noach MiFrankfurt Jul 13 '14 at 16:55
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    This question seems to involves multiple questions: Can/should you be happy at the death of an evil person who supported murdering Jews? Does it make a difference whether they were actively involved in the effort to murder Jews (and, if so, how actively involved would they have to have been)? Can/should you be happy if someone dies if, based on the limited demographic info you know about them, they were merely statistically likely to have supported murdering Jews? – Fred Jul 13 '14 at 18:28
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    Related question: Is it appropriate to celebrate the death of an enemy, such as Bin Laden's death? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/7056/commemorating-death – Judah Gabriel Himango Jul 14 '14 at 19:37

Though the verse in Proverbs 24 does indeed state: "בנפל אויבך אל תשמח" - "Rejoice not in thine enemy's downfall", the Talmud (Megilla 16a) in an aggadic dialogue between Mordecai and Haman excludes from this the enemies of the Jewish people about whom instead the verse in Deuteronomy 33 is applied "וְיִכָּחֲשׁוּ אֹיְבֶיךָ לָךְ וְאַתָּה עַל בָּמוֹתֵימוֹ תִדְרֹךְ" - "And thine enemies shall dwindle away before thee and thou shalt tread upon their high places". My understanding is that the Talmud is interpreting the verse in Proverbs as referring to an individual's personal enemies; whereas Deuteronomy refers to Israel's national enemies who seek its destruction. Though there is definitely room to discuss a limit on how much rejoicing one might have over the destruction of G-d's creatures even when they are national enemies, as we find in one explanation of why only half-hallel is recited during the latter days of Pesach.

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    "My understanding is that the Talmud is interpreting the verse in Proverbs as referring to an individual's personal enemies; whereas Deuteronomy refers to Israel's national enemies who seek its destruction." Where does that understanding come from? The Talmud pretty clearly states that the difference is whether the enemy is Jewish. – msh210 Jul 16 '14 at 19:38

Ralbag sort of addresses this in his commentary to the beginning of Parshas Yisro:

הרצון כי כבר שמח יתרו על כל הטובה שעשה ה' לישראל כי היא היתה הכוונה ברע שהביא השם על המצרים ולא שמח ברע שהביא על המצרים מצד מה שהוא רע להם אבל מצד שהוא טוב לישראל כי אין מחוק השלם לשמח על הרע מצד שהוא רע

The intent is that Yisro had rejoiced for all the good that Hashem had done for Israel, for that was the purpose of the evil that Hashem had brought on the Egyptians. He did not rejoice for the evil that [Hashem] had brought on the Egyptians in the aspect of it being evil for them, but in the aspect of it being good for Israel, for it is not a characteristic of a whole person to rejoice over evil in the aspect of it being evil.

And restated in the Lessons there:

התועלת השמיני הוא במדות והוא שאין ראוי לאדם שיהיה שמח לאיד כי הרע בלתי רצוי בעצמותו ולזה לא יסודר רע מהשם יתעלה אם לא מצד מה שבה מהטוב ולזה ספר ששמח יתרו על הטובה שעשה השם לישראל ולא שמח ברע שהגיע למצרים

The eighth lesson is in character traits, and it is that it is not proper for man to rejoice at evil happenings, because evil is not inherently desirable. This is why evil is not arranged by Hashem (may He be exalted) except in the aspect of good in it. Therefore it is told that Yisro rejoiced over the good that Hashem had done for Israel but he did not rejoice over the evil that reached Egypt.

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