Sunday, July 6, 2014

Justice you shall pursue

This past shabbat, July 5, I spoke to my community against the value of vengeance and for the value of Justice.  After the murder of 3 Israeli teens was discovered this week, it became clear that Israel's security forces have been hot on the heals of the killers since the abduction 3 weeks ago.  The fact that the tree boys were murdered the first night of their capture broke the hearts of the nation, and Jewish people everywhere. Hamas preaches that abduction is legitimate and calls upon its followers to do this. The world should see them for who they are.

Across the internet a movement spread, "ha Am Doreish Nekamah," meaning "the Nation Seeks Vengeance." Vengeance, however, belongs to the Lord and is removed from human beings by the Torah over and over.  In the cities of refuge, the blood avenger is blocked from their goal of retribution. An Eye for an Eye is immediately interpreted as financial obligation, not corporal punishment. Our people have never sought vengeance.  Rather, "tzedek tzedek tridof," - "Justice, Justice you shall pursue." The calls for vengeance, though understandable, are unacceptable.

This past week a Palestinian teen was abducted, bludgeoned and burned alive. This murder is heinous and evil. It appears that this was done in retribution, though other theories have been advanced.  The Israeli heart is betrayed by this cowardly and willful act of murder against an innocent Israel Palestinian civilian teenager.  There is no equivalence between the two events. If it is Israelis who did this, they are criminals to be tried and condemned. The Prime Minister has deplored the act, condemned it, and put the shin bet and the police on the case. Tzedek tzedek tirdof. Justice is being pursued.

But where is the justice from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority? Where is the cooperation in criminal affairs promised in previous agreements with Abbas?  The Israelis have the license plate and names of the murderers, but they have disappeared into the protective Palestinian society. Are they being pursued?

On the Israeli side, those who killed know they are not safe from Justice. On the Hamas side, their murderers are heros.

We must not let the murderers take over the agenda. Vigilante vengeance is forbidden by Jewish law and human wisdom. There is no place for it among us.

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