Does Judaism condone violence?  

Yes and No.  There are mitzvahs that don’t apply today, but certainly are of the violent nature; the commandment: All remnant of the Amalek nation must be destroyed. -the people from Lot’s first daughter (and Lot) who met the Israelites in the desert with pretense to give them water but served them only hot air causing severe pain; showing their evil nature. Interesting enough, Ruth the great grandmother of King David was from the Moabites; because it was the law that only the men were shunned.

There is a belief in capital punishment; but for a Jewish court to pronounce a death sentence; the guilty party first needs 2 witnesses to tell him before the crime (murder, rape, kidnapping, and a few others) that it is forbidden and punishable by death. Then there needs to be 2 witnesses that see the crime fully – it can’t be partial, substantial evidence and the witnesses have to be examined. They are also the ones need to administer the punishment. And it was said when the Jewish court actually had such power; if it gave out a death penalty more than 2 times in 70 years – it was a murdering court.

So actually it follows a common theme in Judaism, there is a balance.  Jews do not believe in turning the other cheek; if a person is out to kill you – you should kill him first. Crime is to be punished. People are to be protected.

On the other hand, violence is foreign to Jewish thinking as a hobby.  Hunting is forbidden, the laws of kashrus don’t allow eating of hunted animals.  Schetiah the Jewish way of killing animals must use a very sharp knife and it must be quick in the neck; cutting the major arteries as quick as possible; almost painless death.

In the bible (as well as all through history) the leaders were almost all strong in strength as well as in moral code. King David was not allowed to build the Temple because of all the blood on his hands. (Otherwise he is not punished per se for the violence – it was just the consequence.) Shimshon (Samuel) was said to kill more of the enemy in his death than in his life.  And he is lauded for that. The prophets are filled with violence some condemned and some condoned. In the story of Esther in Purim they chose days to kill off their enemies, which is the day we celebrate today. In Chanukah there was a 25 year war that the Jews fought with the Romans that is praised.

The bottom line; if necessary Jews should fight.

 

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