Does the Torah Tell Jews to Turn the Other Cheek?

Traditional Jewish law forbids revenge, praises forgiveness, and encourages self-defense. So where exactly does it stand on the oft-cited New Testament commandment? Gil Student writes:

Forgiveness in Judaism is not automatic. If you wrong someone, you need to apologize to him—not just God. Christianity teaches that if someone hits you on the cheek, rather than fighting back you should turn the other cheek and allow him to hit that one as well. I am certainly aware that Christian thinkers have found many creative and interesting ways to understand this directive, but this is not the place for that discussion. Rather, I’d like to address the Jewish attitude to turning the other cheek, or at least to fighting back. Traditionally, Jews counter that this pacifism is strange and contrary to the Torah. But doesn’t the Torah forbid revenge (Lev. 19:18)? Isn’t a Jew required to be . . . patient and forgiving (Rosh Hashanah 17a)? Perhaps we are obligated to forgive the transgression and walk away.

[The rabbis conclude, however, that] turning the other cheek is an irresponsible response. We must protect those who need defending, including ourselves.

Read more at Torah Musings

More about: Forgiveness, Halakhah, Jewish ethics, Revenge

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7