- For our wives
- Introduction: Why Study Jewish Ethics?
- Jewish Ethical Theories
- Ethical Theory and Practice in the Hebrew Bible
- Ethical Theories in Rabbinic Literature
- Ethical Theories in Jewish Mystical Writings
- Ethical Theories among Medieval Jewish Philosophers
- Spinoza and Jewish Ethics
- Mussar Ethics and Other Nineteenth-Century Jewish Ethical Theories
- Ethical Theories of Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, and Martin Buber
- Ethical Theories of Mordecai Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel
- Ethical Theories of Abraham Isaac Kook and Joseph B. Soloveitchik
- Ethical Implications of the Holocaust
- Ethical Theories in the Reform Movement
- Ethical Theories in the Conservative Movement
- Ethical Theories in the Orthodox Movement
- Ethical Theories in the Reconstructionist Movement
- Feminist Jewish Ethical Theories
- Postmodern Jewish Ethical Theories
- Topics in Jewish Morals
- Jewish Bioethics: The Beginning of Life
- Jewish Bioethics: The End of Life
- Jewish Bioethics: The Distribution of Health Care
- Jewish Bioethics: Current and Future Issues in Genetics
- Jewish Business Ethics
- Jewish Sexual Ethics
- Jewish Environmental Ethics: Intertwining Adam with Adamah
- Jewish Animal Ethics
- Jewish Ethics of Speech
- Jewish Political Ethics in America
- Jewish Political Ethics in Israel
- Judaism and Criminal Justice
- Jewish Ethics and War
- BIBLICAL SOURCES: RABBINIC AND SELECTED MEDIEVAL CITATIONS
- SUBJECT INDEX
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter discusses Jewish ethics and war. It first turns to ancient and medieval Jewish sources to describe what they tell us about the ethics of going to war (jus ad bellum) and of waging war (jus in bello)—especially Deuteronomy 20–21 and Maimonides' code of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah. Recognizing that until the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jews fought in armies governed by non-Jewish rulers, it then examines a nineteenth-century book intended to instruct Jews about how to act in military service. The overriding principle in that book and in the few other Jewish treatments of the ethics of war during the last two thousand years was “the law of the land is the law,” and that law was determined by the non-Jewish ruler. What happens, though, when Jews determine the law of the land? The chapter examines some Jewish writings published just before and after the establishment of the State of Israel that anticipate this issue. It discusses the doctrine of “purity of arms” that has shaped Israeli military ethics, the role of the military rabbinate, the Code of Ethics which now governs Israel's military actions, the ethics of fighting terrorism, and the ethics of seeking peace.
Asa Kasher (Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is Laura Schwarz-Kipp Professor Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy of Practice and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He won the highest Israeli national honor, the Prize of Israel (2000), for his contributions to philosophy and ethics, the Izhak Sade Military Literature Prize for his book Military Ethics, and an honorary degree. He has written about 250 papers in philosophy of language, professional ethics, and other areas and many ethical documents, as well as several books, including Judaism and Idolatry and A Small Book on the Meaning of Life. He co-authored the first code of ethics of the IDF, a code of military ethics of fighting terrorism, and many others, including those of the Government ministers and the Knesset members. He has served on many governmental committees, including the National Bio-ethics Council.
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