Wednesday, January 28, 2009

conflicted emotions

From Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary on the blessings of Yaakov (Jacob) to his sons Shimon (Simon) and Levi, Genesis Chapter 49, Verse 7--

"It is most significant that here, at the cornerstone of the Jewish people, a curse is imposed upon any violent outburst that counter to justice and morality, even if it is intended for the common good.

All other states and nations have adopted the principle that any action is legitimate as long as it serves the interest of the state. Acts of cunning and violence that would be punished by ostracism or execution if practiced by an individual for selfish gain are rewarded with laurels and civic honors if they are committed for what is alleged to be the welfare of the state. The laws of morality apply only in private life, wheras in politics and diplomancy the only recognized law is that of national self-interest.

Here, by contrast, the last will and testament on which the Jewish people was founded pronounces a curse on cunning and violence, even if they are used for the nation's most legitimate interests, and it sets down for all time the doctrine that even in public life and in the promotion if the common good, not only must the ends be pure, but so must be the means."
I truly wonder what he would say had he been around today to see the founding of the Israeli state and the various wars and conflicts since then.

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