What are some sources about when it is appropriate - if ever - to celebrate the death of an enemy?

My question is inspired by last night's news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, naturally, as well as the apparent coincidence that 2 days prior was the anniversary of the report of Adolf Hitler's death, and today's commemoration of Yom HaShoah.


A good summary of a lot of the pros and cons:


A couple of key paragraphs:

For the same reason, Solomon tells you not to rejoice over the fall of your enemy. If that’s the reason you are celebrating—because he is your enemy, that you have been vindicated in a personal battle—then how are you better than him? His wickedness was self-serving, as is your joy.

But to rejoice over the diminishment of evil in the world, that we have done something of our part to clean up the mess, that there has been justice—what could be more noble?


So there’s the irony of it all, the depth and beauty that lies in the tension of our Torah: If we celebrate that Bin Laden was shot and killed, we are stooping to his realm of depravation. Yet if we don’t celebrate the elimination of evil, we demonstrate that we simply don’t care.

We are not angels. An angel, when it sings, is filled with nothing but song. An angel, when it cries, is drowned in its own tears. We are human beings. We can sing joyfully and mourn both at once. We can hate the evil of a person, while appreciating that he is still the work of G-d’s hands. In this way, the human being, not the angel, is the perfect vessel for the wisdom of Torah.

  • Didn't Mordechai tell Haman that "Binpol Oyivcha Al Tismah" only applies to Jews, but if the enemy is a gentile then you may rejoice? – Yahu May 4 '11 at 5:12
  • On the other hand, Beis Yosef to Orach Chaim 490 says that it applies to non-Jews too, and that this is a reason why we don't say full Hallel on the last six days of Pesach. – Alex May 5 '11 at 1:30

Mishlei 11:10 - ובאבד רשעים רנה.

  • 2
    Mishlei 24:17 - בנפל אויבך אל תשמח. – jake May 3 '11 at 1:51
  • 3
    הוא אינו שש אבל אחרים משיש (Sanhedrin 39b). – Alex May 3 '11 at 2:35

Here is a recent translation, published on the Kol Harav blog, of an essay by R' Meir Simcha of Dvinsk on this topic. He shows how the precedent from how we observe the various "They tried to kill us and failed" holidays indicates that we do not rejoice at our enemies' downfall.


Just want to add a citation that I don't think any of the previously posted answers or comments mentioned, and that was mentioned by a local rav this Shabas: Sanhedrin 94. Rashi there gives two reasons Chizkiya should have said shira, one of which is having been saved from his enemies. A glance at navi will show that that salvation came about through the death of 185,000 people.

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    I wonder what percentage of sermons this Shabbat were on this theme. My Rabbi's was, and the Meshech Chochma referred to in my answer was a big part of it. – Isaac Moses May 8 '11 at 4:20
  • I don't see how this is relevant. The Shira would have been for his being saved, not for their dying. – Double AA Jul 15 '14 at 5:26

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