A Great Jewish Sage on the Dangers of Political Violence https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2021/01/a-great-jewish-sage-on-the-dangers-of-political-violence/

January 8, 2021 | Dovid Margolin
About the author: Dovid Margolin is a senior editor at Chabad.org, where he writes on Jewish life around the world, with a particular interest in Russian Jewish history.

In 1968, several years of increasing political violence and unrest, coupled by rising crime and disorder, seemed to come to a climax: first with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., then with the nationwide riots afterward, followed by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and thereafter by the violent protests at the Democratic National Convention. There were also repercussions for Jews: as Dovid Margolin notes, “in a three-month period beginning in September 1968, ten synagogues and Jewish schools were vandalized, set on fire, or even firebombed in New York City” alone. On December 10, Menachem M. Schneerson, the then-rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Ḥasidim, delivered a lengthy sermon touching on the dangers of the moment, which Margolin summarizes:

As the rebbe explained, it is within every person’s power . . . “to pursue righteousness and justice” in accordance with the Torah’s teachings. But this all would—and could—only be accomplished through these same twin values of shalom: peace and wholeness.

“Through acts of violence and destruction one abandons the path of righteousness and justice,” Schneerson stated, “and eventually becomes destructive even to his family and, ultimately, to himself.” Violence, the rebbe explained, could not be easily subdued. Easy gains brought about through violent acts could only appear as such in the short term and would by nature sacrifice long-term progress in their wake. And a society that yielded to violence was not addressing injustice but rather dehumanizing the individuals it claimed to be helping, removing their agency and ability to return to their divine mission.

“Anarchy must ultimately destroy the anarchist,” the rebbe said [in a written version of the same sermon]. “It is for the good of those who would be destructive to be restrained.” In a Godly world, moral ends cannot justify immoral means and cannot possibly bring about a true, lasting, and virtuous justice.

Read more on Chabad.org: https://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/4959758/jewish/The-Rebbe-on-Violence-and-the-Pursuit-of-Justice.htm