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Rabbinical perspectives on paying ransom of 1,027 convicted Arab terrorists to free a sole Israeli captive, Gilad Shalit

Israelis celebrate the return of Islamist-held captive Gilad Shalit

Rabbi Zvi Block, of Beis Medrash Toras HaShem, offers a Judaic perspective about paying excessive ransom for releasing a kidnap victim, in the wake of Israel's releasing over 1000 convicted terrorists in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Fox News published his Op/Ed, Gilad Shalit Comes Home -- Tears of Joy Mixed With Bitter Tears of Sorrow.

"Jewish law demands, that a community’s last Torah scroll must be sold off to perform one special deed: Redeeming a Jew from captivity.

The Talmud says captivity is worse than starvation or death. The great Medieval scholar Maimonides, who lived in an era when helpless Jews were too often held for hostage, collected money to redeem them and lashed out at those who refused to help as violating biblical commandments, including "you shall not harden your heart" (Deuteronomy 15:7); "you shall not stand idly by the blood of your brother" (Leviticus 19:16); and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).

One legal text admonishes that anyone who delays in ransoming a captive is akin to a murderer.
Indeed, 2,000 years ago the Talmud explicitly cautioned that the commandment to redeem the captive ends when the deal upends “ Tikun Olam” -- the good order of the world. Meaning, only make the deal, if "… they [the kidnappers] should not seize more captives".

Tragically, throughout 2,000 years of exile, embattled Jewish leaders, too often found themselves between a rock and a hard place, more often than not, forced to pay high ransoms, with the knowledge they were helpless to stop the next kidnapping.

Even the modern state of Israel has not been immune from this scourge.. Over the last four decades, Jewish scholars have grappled with the phenomenon of terrorist kidnappings-- from the Entebbe skyjacking saga in 1976 to the Shalit affair.

The late former Chief Rabbi Goren, ruled that one must not pay more than the captive's value because it would encourage the kidnappers to kidnap more Jews and endanger the public.

Rabbi Goren’s conclusion: the safety of one or a few Jews in captivity does not take precedence over the safety of the entire public and without doubt, the freeing hundreds or thousands of terrorists in 2011 will definitely increase terrorism and the threat of more kidnappings.

But other scholars disagree since Israel is struggling with a war based on Palestinian nationalism—not money. And so, the price paid for Gilad Shalit's freedom, however painful and lopsided, they argue, will not make any difference to Hamas or Hezbollah, who will continue to try to kidnap Jews regardless of what Israel does.

It will be a bittersweet Simchat Torah this year for us Jews: We celebrate a tradition that cherishes Life and helped repatriate a kidnappedson; while we cast a wary eye on terrorists who leverage our reverence for life to stoke the flames of their culture of death."

Read more 

Hamas militant Fakhre Barghouti waves in Ramallah,
as one of 1000 Islamist terrorists Israel is trading

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