Future IDF Chief Rabbi: “The life of a non-Jew certainly has value … but the value of Shabbat is more important”

The leading candidate to become the IDF’s (Orthodox) chief rabbi, Colonel Rabbi Avi Ronsky (Res.) has this to say about violating Shabbat laws to save non-Jewish lives:

"The life of a non-Jew certainly has value … but
the value of Shabbat is more important
," said Ronsky. "When there is a
clash between a directive in the spirit of the [IDF ethical] code and
an order of Jewish law, it is clear that one must listen to the opinion
of Jewish law."

While the context of this statement is the saving of a non-Jewish terrorist’s life, Rabbi Ronsky clearly does not differentiate in his reasoning between that case and the case of a friendly non-Jew. And Rabbi Ronsky, a settler, is widely considered a moderate.

Should a non-Jew’s life be saved on Shabbat when that saving entails violation of Shabbat law? And if the answer to that question is no, why should non-Jews ever bother to save Jewish lives? Keep in mind this question applies to all areas of medicine and emergency response. Readers?

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25 Comments

Filed under Bio-Ethics, Israel, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

25 responses to “Future IDF Chief Rabbi: “The life of a non-Jew certainly has value … but the value of Shabbat is more important”

  1. Dover Eimes Bilvavoy.

    This case is just one of many illustrations of how big a problem we have on our hands in the orthodox community . It is not only him that holds these views . No orthodox rabbi it seems will deny this halakha when asked , about the halakha per se .
    Some may hold that the practical halakha may be applied differently in certain cases mipnei darkei sholom .
    Such as the case of attending to a non jewish soldier fighting in our ranks .
    To change this attitude , we need a major moral root canal that we are not ready yet for it seems . (unfortunately).

  2. Modern Jew

    These guys are nut-I don’t want tohave anythign to do with them-it pisses me off that Federation and JAFI money goes to these parasites-How the hell do non relgious Jews stand being suck off these medevil idiots-

  3. TzudikD

    Some may hold that the practical halakha may be applied differently in certain cases mipnei darkei sholom.
    Dover: your comment is a step in the right direction, but still fundamentally the same thing he’s saying – with a politically correct PR twist.

    Both of you are clearly stating that jewish law states that a human life, of a goy is less important than a jew, to the extent of action (ie. not save him if it means breaking shabbos).

    Try to asking a chabadnik putting tefillin on the street if “jews are superior”, the last thing he’ll say is “of course, and they’re expendable too, but mipnei darkei sholom I’ll say he’s just different.

    I’m mortified to have been raised Jewish right now when people are publically posting this racist garbage in Judaism’s name.

    Shame on all of you who believe in this garbage – your attitude is sure to result in another tragedy.

  4. Dover Eimes Bilvavoy.

    TzudikD
    I don’t think u understood what I am saying .
    “To change this attitude , we need a major moral root canal that we are not ready yet for it seems . (unfortunately).”
    It’s not a question of PR , I think that we need a brain transplant .
    Golda Meir , whom I otherwise detest for her racist fanaticism , was being cornered once on the subject of the failure of her “hasbara” effort (hasbara = explanation literally , otherwise = Public Relations or Propaganda) .
    She shouted back in despair , there are things one cannot “explain”.
    In this case too, we have a big problem on our hand . The attitude of the chief Chaplain of the IDF cannot be explained in this day and age . It’s simply , not acceptable .
    One of the greatest manifestations of this problem , is “the Chosenness” of the Jewish people , if you read a Siddur (Orthodox , and I suspect Conservative as well) , “You have chosen us from among the nations” , “blessed are thou Gd who separates from the holy to the profane , from Israel and the nations and from the Sabbath to the 6 days of creation “.
    It’s all true and good .
    Many fools however , are happy to bask in their chosenness . We have to look at the chosenness from another angle !
    Chosen ? Thank you , we are chosen yes , to to assume responsibility for the world .
    To be leaders in doing good and shunning evil , to uphold the reign of the Eternal in this world .
    All other chauvinistic manifestations should be questioned and eliminated as they debase Judaism.
    I don’t know from which angle you are looking at this problem , but the Conservative Synagogue does not come out any cleaner on this issue !
    Probably Chabad comes out among the worse offenders in this hypocritical game . One has only to look at the Chapter 1 of their Tanya and the references there to non-jews , epitomising profanity and impurity . Compared to the Jews that inherently shine with the light of Nogah .
    Yes all Jews are inherently good and all gentiles are far from it to put it gently . They may not tell u that in the street , but you don’t have to scratch too deep to find it .
    The “best” I heared from them , was about the comparison between a Jew and a Gentile
    doning Tefillin.
    Of course , when a Jew does that , he contributes to mending the world. Yeaaaaah , yippeeeee ! On the other hand , if a gentile were to do that , it would have no beneficial effect whatsoever , neither to him , nor to the universe , it would be exactly as if a monkey put on tefillin ! (in those very words delivered by a Chabad Rabbi and Proffessor of Philosophy ). I got to a point where I have difficulty these days listening to any homily . It’s becoming unbearable and I am often alone with Gd .

  5. Shmarya, you make it sound like he said this in a recent interview, he wrote it in a Torah journal in 1996, ten years ago. You also failed to mention that his ultimate conclusion on the topic was you SAVE the life…..

    In responce to the last comments:

    If you are in any religion/faith, you must believe that yours is better then anybody else, because if not, why/what do you believe?!

    Considering that I doubt that any of the commenters have mentioned where hte halacha comes from, I’ll say it. IT’S FROM THE TALMUD!!! This is not a question of “ultra-orthodox-insanity”, this is Judaisim.

    The Halacha today is I beleive that you do save a non-jews life on Shabbat (ask any ORTHODOX Jewish Doctor).

    Now what he was writing about was a wounded TERRORIST! If I had a terrorist in my custody, (if there was no more information to be got out of him), I would kill them, ’cause that’s what you do with terrorists, you don’t negotiate with them, you kill them!!

    (Note: these aren’t my words, their VP Cheneys, (originally from Rabbi Meir Kahane)

  6. Here is the quote in context:

    Ronsky minimized the importance of the disagreement this week, saying the bottom line is that medics must treat wounded terrorists on Shabbat. He said he had not been writing anything original in referring to a situation in which a medic could refrain from treating someone, and that he had relied on the opinions of great sages.

    “The life of a non-Jew certainly has value … but the value of Shabbat is more important,” said Ronsky. “When there is a clash between a directive in the spirit of the [IDF ethical] code and an order of Jewish law, it is clear that one must listen to the opinion of Jewish law.”

    So the quote is very current, from earlier this week. I also noted the terrorism context. My poit about Rabbi Ronsky’s wide, rather than narrowly applied, application of this principle is also clear and self evident from the text.

    In other words, all things being equal, leave that non-Jew to die on Shabbat rather than using a telephone to call 911 or the like.

    And note that the ‘heter’ for calling 911 or performing surgery, etc. is, as stated above, darkei shalom. We only end up saving lives in this circumstance because of the fear non-Jews will hurt us if we do not.

    Defend this.

  7. You first explain what the Talmud says that if you know it’s an aku”m under the wall, you don’t clear it on Shabbos.

    These aren’t his opinions, he was writing essentially what it says in Talmud and Shulchan Orech!!!

  8. nachos

    To paraphrase the Shulhan Aruch “If a roof of a house collapses a Jew is not allowed to violate the Sabbath to save a non jew that is trapped in the collapse. You can violate shabbat only if the person trapped is jewish.” I remember this clearly, because a Chabad individual that I knew was pushing me to become more observant. I borrowed this edition of the Shulchan Aruch. After reading this part, I closed the book and have not picked up the Shulchan Aruch since.

    Us Jews need to understand that we were chosen to be a light ( or an example) to the gentiles. We have failed at this mission miserably. In my opinion, the gentiles and the jews are just two sides of the same coin. Each side no better or worse than the other. Once we realize this, we will have lost some of the arrogance that we as a nation have acquired and can move foward to complete g-d’s mission for us.

  9. Anonymous

    Shmarya – shame on you. You are distorting things here. I heard a great authority on Jewish medical ethics speak a few days ago and he addressed this issue and said that there is no difference, Jew or non-Jew. He related such a ruling from one of the leading poskim (Rabbinic decisors) of the world of recent times who towered far above a middling chaplain that you cite. Have you run out of things to write about ? It seems that you have become a Jewish version of the National Enquirer here, looking for sensationalism and scandal and making it up at times when you don’t find it (although your photos are more modest than those in the NE). For shame.

  10. Shame on me? Why? Because I reported news?

    Please. Name your posek. And then go ask him WHY non-Jews should be treated. The answer is almost always darkei shalom.

    If his answer is different, NAME HIM and report it here. (I doubt you will have anything to report.)

  11. be honest!

    as i said: you are a non orthodox maskil attempting to make talmud and torah she baal peh look bad, that simple. You are not writing anything new that the your frindly churches have not written over the last hundreds of years.

    just be honest and state clearly that you do not believe in the talmud and the divinity of the torah she baal peh and everyone will know whom we are dealing with.
    I challengue *you* to bring *any* orthodox rabbi in the past 2,000 years that holds of your opinion(s).

  12. Funny. One direct quote from a prominent rabbi and a QUESTION to readers regarding it makes one non-Orthodox. What a small would you live in.

    Think: Meiri.

  13. Anonymous

    one comment plus another plus another plus another and all of them together strip any holiness and G-dliness from the Torah and you have the result: shmarya a non beleiver in TOrah Min Hashomayim!

  14. No. you’ve got it wrong. It they strip any belief in gedolim min hashamyim.

  15. Shmuel

    Rabbi Yaakov Yechiel Weinberg decried the unbelievable, unceasing, hate-filled anti-gentile tone in halacha. Anyone dare to take him on?

  16. Shmarya, the thing about not saving etc. is from the TALMUD, please explain to us what you take that to mean, (I have no problem personaly believing it).

  17. Yochanan Lavie

    Maybe I am an Am Ha’aretz, but doesn’t the torah say “Lo Tirzach” not “Lo Tirzach amitecha” or the like? Wasn’t Adam made “betzelem Elohim” even though he was a non-Jew? Wasn’t Yonah charged to preach to the non-Jewish city of Ninveh, and was punished when he was reluctant to do so? I don’t like rabbinic and talmudic equivocation. I agree with guys like Dover Emes- we are supposed to be a light unto the nations, not a master race.

  18. be honest!

    No Shmarya, you strip of any shred of holiness and Divinity from the *Talmud*. not only do you think that academcians are your “godol and possek hador” but you belittle anything in talmud that is not to your liking and you have many collegues who enjoy every bit of malicious and antisemtic hate that you spew at talmud and rabbis from then on.

    let all know: you are *NOT* an orthodox jew; you are an orthodox and talmud hater!

    (and btw: where is that Meiri that talks specifically about shabbos?)

  19. Yochanan Lavie

    Orthodox schmorthodox. Who cares about labels? Let’s save this religion from obscurantism.

  20. Be Honest –

    You clearly have absolutely no ability to openly discuss anything. You’re programmed just like a Moonie.

    Now, try to get your little mind to process: Asking questions on the Talmud is not kefira.

  21. Be honest!

    you piece of garbage with nothing inside your silly brains: “asking questions” ispermissible; making disparaging remarks at the talmud is NOT! do you get it? You don’t because your little brain in poluuted with the garbage by antisemites and churches who made the same “questions” as you on the talmud.

    BE honest and say clearly that all your rampages at anything of yiddishkeyt (and the previous poster is right no labels) but plain yiddishkeyt as was practices for thousands of years, is a result for your disbeleief in any of these things and you have made a purpose in yuor life to demean it debase it but you are sleazy and you make bleief that you are one of us; LET EVERYONE ONE YOU ARE A FAKE AND FRAUD you are not an observant jew!

  22. No. You still cannot process. Let me be clear: The Talmud advocates medicine that does not work. Is one allowed to say that? Is one allowed to ask why that is?

    The Talmud confuses real historical figures. (See Shimon HaTzaddik, for example, where the Talmud combines the activities of several different High Priests and attributes them to Shimon HaTzaddik, even though this attributuion cannot be true.) Must we believe the Talmud’s incorrect version of history is actually true?

    Now be a good Moonie and go far away.

  23. Be honest!

    be open and say: the talmud was wrong in the interpretation of 39 melochos, the laws of chomets etc. as you said about so many things.

    You can ask whatever you want but be open and declare that besides meiri and ethiopian flashnure you belive in NOTHING of what the talmud says and you repeat the canards said by our worse enemies in the past centuries.

  24. Be honest!

    be open and say: the talmud was wrong in the interpretation of 39 melochos, the laws of chomets etc. as you said about so many things.

    You can ask whatever you want but be open and declare that besides meiri and ethiopian flashnure you belive in NOTHING of what the talmud says and you repeat the canards said by our worse enemies in the past centuries.

  25. So it’s all or nothing, eh? If you question one thing in the Talmud you question it all?

    What amazing foolishness that is.

    Okay, Moonbeam, go gently into Shabbos …

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