Rules of the Game


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

4 Av, 5766/28-29 July, 2006


The book of Kohelet tells us: "Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die. . . . a time for war and a time for peace."

The Midrash teaches us that there is a time to kill - during war, and a time to heal - during peace. There is a time to break down - during war, and a time to build up - during peace. There is a time to seek - during peace, and a time to lose - during war. There is a time to rend - during war, and a time to sew - during peace. There is a time to love - during peace, and a time to hate - during war. There is a time for war - during war, and a time for peace - during peace.

The words of the Midrash ring so true, but what great insight are our rabbis conveying to us when they say there is a time for war - during war, and a time for peace - during peace? What else would there be in the time of war, if not war?

It seems that the Torah knew whom it was being written for, only too well. For we find in the book of I Kings, that Ahab, king of Israel went out to war against the all-powerful Ben-Hadad, defeating his army and killing a hundred thousand soldiers in one day! The servants of a worried Ben-Hadad told their king that it is known that "the kings of Israel are merciful, let us go out to him." And sure enough, when Ahab hears that Ben-Hadad is still alive, he calls out to him: "Is he still alive, he is my brother", and Ahab helped him into his chariot. He then released him back to his own land, Damascus.

It would be three years later, when the mercy of fools that was shown to Ben-Hadad by Ahab would be his own deathblow. The same Ben-Hadad and his now refurbished troops would come to battle Israel once again, this time killing King Ahab, and of course they would show no mercy to him.

This, then, is what we find when the Torah tells us: "When you go out to war against your enemy..." And does one ever go out to war against his friend, so that the Torah needs to tell us that you are going out to war against an enemy? Rather, it is teaching us to treat him as an enemy and have no mercy on him, for he will have none on you.

That is why the Midrash tells us: In the time of war - war. When one goes out to battle for the sake of the Jewish people and its Land, there can be no mercy at all on the enemy. One must wage the war to win for the sake of Kiddush Hashem, and know that the harsh enemy will certainly not have mercy on us if they, G-d forbid, win. In this war there cannot be any consideration of civilian casualties; the lot of them all is not worth the life of one Israeli solider! To endanger our soldiers for the sake of the civilians that the enemy hides behind - that is the mercy of fools which King Ahab died for.

One is just sickened to hear of the soldiers who were killed in the battle of Bint Jbil in Lebanon on Wednesday, because the terrorists left behind the civilians in the village, knowing all too well that we would not fire on them orthat the IAF would not fire on the mosques that they use to shoot from. It is time for us to learn the rules of the game - or continue to die.

And there is nothing wrong with winning, it is our only option! So let the world condemn us, as they will in any case, but for us, we must learn - and apply - the rules of the game to win!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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