I've recently acquired a book (rather a large pamphlet) about the Great War (1914-18) entitled "The War and the Bible" by HG. Enelow (then head of the Reform Temple Emanu-el in NYC). However, this fails to deliver a wider theological profile, bearing –as it does– the stamp of one of the least traditional Jewish communities of its day.

However, as the Great War (an area of my own personal interest) affected much of world Jewry (from the communities of Germany, Poland, Russia, France, Italy, and the UK on one hand to the Maghribi and Mizrachi communities of North Africa and the Middle East on the other) it seemed more than plausible for rabbanim and chachamim to have discussed its hashkafic and halachic significance in its day.

What are the opinions of contemporary* acharonim on the Great War?

*Contemporary is here used to refer to contemporaneousness to the events, rather than the current day.


2 Answers 2


Shmuel Brin left a comment with a link to וועלט קריג וועלט פרידען און משיחס צייט (World War, World Peace, and Moshiach's Time) by Avraham Tennenbaum of Lodz*. My Yiddish is not great, but I think that the subtitle reads "אין א מאדערן־וויסענשאפטליכער אויפפאסונג (לויט מסורה פון תנ"ך און תלמו)ד," "In a modern-scientific view (according to the mesorah from Tanach and Talmud)." (I don't read Yiddish very well, so that translation may be flawed. I'm significantly more confident about the title than the subtitle, especially the (Google) translation of "וויסענשאפטליכער" to "scientific")

* I'm not sure if this is the same one, but this Avraham Tennenbaum of Lodz is credited with writing "מלחמה ושלום בימות המשיח לפי התלמוד" so...maybe?

  • I think this answer might qualify as link-only. Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 16:27

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook wrote a work on the War called "Orot Hamilchamah" (Lights of War) or just "Hamilchamah" (the War). In the work, he explains what brings nations to war and what are the positive geulistic aspects of large-scale wars. Orot Hamilchamah was written during WWI when Rav Kook was trapped in Europe and couldn't return to Eretz Yisrael. It was later included in the anthology book "Orot".

In short, he believed that wars show the true essence and uniqueness of the different nations, and large-scale wars in particular greatly push forward the geulah process (which turned out to be true, by the way, at least according to those who view the State of Israel as a significant step forward in towards the complete geulah).

  • Of course he couldn't foresee WWII, but I still fail to insert the death of our 5-6 million brothers into this process. Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 8:59
  • @Kazibácsi I'm not entirely sure the holocaust can be described as part of WWII. It happened parallel to it, certainly, but was it really part of the war? If anything, your question should be about the tens of millions of casualties of either or both of the wars. I haven't studied OH in a couple of years now, so I don't remember whether he writes about casualties or not.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 9:04

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