Anarchism and Orthodox Judaism - Related Themes in Judaism - Nonviolence


Further information: Peace and violence in Judaism

Contemporary Judaism rejects capital punishment and, at least in theory, almost never advocates physical coercion, except for some rare cases, such as forcing a husband who refuses to give a get to his wife, who wants to be divorced. However, historically Judaism (as laid down in the Torah) did mandate, at least in theory, the death sentence for certain crimes, provided that certain requirements are met, namely two eyewitnesses and the perpetrator being warned of (and acknowledging) the punishment if they were to carry out the crime. This however requires participation of active Sanhedrin (the supreme court of Jewish law) which is presently non existent. The only exception to that rule is the case of the "moyser" ("informer") who threatens the life of others by informing the authorities; such a person could be killed, in principle, even today.

While Tanakh contains many violent stories of military conquest, capital and collective punishment for various sins, the Talmud and the later commentators tend to interpret these stories not literally or reduce them to unique one-time contexts. For example, the Talmudic requirements for corporal punishments are so complicated and unrealistic, that render them virtually impossible even in the biblical times and certainly impossible today. The Talmud says, that a Sanhedrin, who would put someone to death even once (or, according to another version, more than once) in 70 years, deserves to be called a "bloody Sanhedrin". According to Kabbalah, the purpose of these rare punishments was the spiritual "correction" of the sinner's soul, in order to liberate it from the Klipot.

Rabbi Abraham Yehudah Khein, a supporter of communist anarchism, noticed that Rabbi Akiva, one of the most prominent Talmudical sages, rejected capital punishment altogether. Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon said that if they and their pupils would participate in a Sanhedrin, they would make sure that no one ever gets killed.

The Talmud teaches: "Who is mighty? One who controls his passions" (Pirkei Avot 4:1); "Who is the mightiest of heroes? He who makes an enemy into his friend" (Pirkei Avot, 5:11); "Be of the persecuted rather than the persecutor" (Bava Kama 93a). However, a number of anti-Zionist rabbis, especially, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the late Satmar rebbe, condemned the violence of the Israel Defense Forces, including the Six-Day War, although many observers considered this war an act of "preemptive self-defence". While Judaism fully recognizes the right of military defense, many Orthodox Jews only consider it legitimate in cases of clear and unavoidable danger. Even in such cases, some anti-Zionist Jews deny the right of the State to execute such power.

A few Orthodox Jewish anti-Zionist groups, especially Neturei Karta, don't support any Israel's military actions, interpret the Arab aggression as a result of the Zionist politics and reject the State of Israel altogether, because they view its existence as a heretical contradiction with the belief in the future Messianic redemption, which they usually don't see as the restoration of the Jewish statehood, but as a spiritual 'kingdom' of universal harmony and peace.

Read more about this topic:  Anarchism And Orthodox Judaism, Related Themes in Judaism

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