Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good versus Evil

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  
There must be  one opinion as to what is good and what is evil in this world just as there is but one G-d. Surely he isn't telling the Christians something different from the Jews or the Muslims.  There must be one accepted form of good and evil that we all can accept.  

 It's how mankind judges for themselves what they are doing and what category it fits into as to what we see as good or evil.  The highest form of goodness to perform is to save a life.  We can't all be lifesavers, such as what swimming pools hire, and such, but if the moment comes, that is a huge piece of goodness.  Evil would be to take a life such as in murder.

"To hate evil is as much a virtue as to love justice.

To hate cruelty is as much a virtue as to love mercy.

But it is not enough only to refrain from evil or to disdain cruelty.  One must also actively pursue justice and mercy for it is written in :  (Psalms 34:15, 37:27.)
  1.  Turn away from evil
  2. Do good.  

We start by being kind to animals. 

Eating the flesh of a living animal is forbidden. This teaches us to be sensitive to cruelty to animals

1. The Torah prohibits the torture or causing of pain to any living creature.  It is our duty to save every living creature from pain or distress, even if it has no owner.  
2. If the animal has hurt a human, we are allowed to kill it.
3. We look upon hunting which  involves an element of cruelty to animals in the kill as something we are not to do. .  Usually it has no utilitarian value as meat is available in stores.
4. We do not sit down and eat until our animals are fed.  "And I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied." Deut. 11:15)
5. We may drink before giving water to our animals because man is less capable of enduring thirst than hunger.  "Drink, and I will give your camels drink also." (Genesis 24:14.)
6. Show kindness to our animals:  A righteous man considers the life of his beast.  (Proverbs: 12:10)

Rules of Engagement  in War

War has been with us ever since man crawled out of caves.  Moses in Deuteronomy 20:19-20,  4,000 years ago,  laid down conduct in war: in the 2nd millennium BCE

 1. When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to seize it, do not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them,  for from it you will eat; and you shall not cut it down;  
2. Is the tree of the field a man that it should enter the siege  before you?  
3. Only a tree that you know is not a food tree, it you may destroy and cut down, and build a bulwark against the city that makes war with you, until it is conquered.  

Moses in Deuteronomy 20:10-12, 
1. When you draw near to a city to wage war against it, you shall call out to it for peace.  
2. It shall be that if it responds to you in peace and opens for you, then the entire people found within it shall be as tribute for you, and they shall serve you.  
3. But if it does not make peace with you, but makes war with you, you shall besiege it.  
4. ...and you shall smite all its males by the blade of the sword.  
5. Only the women, the small children, the animals, and everything that will be in the city---all its booty---may you plunder for yourselves.
The enemy back then was given the opportunity make peace.  Those who accepted this offer were required to pay taxes, perform national service, and if they were going to remain in the land, accept the 7 Noahide Laws of Behavior. Evidently it was a new way of thinking for many.

In 1864 the Geneva Convention was signed by some major European powers.  Nations came together to accept practice in War and came to positive international  humanitarian laws called "international treaties on the laws of war.  The opposite of positive laws of war was customary laws of war.  Some of these were discussed in the Nuremberg War Trials.  .  

The Hague Convention of 1907 was accepted by all civilized nations for about 50 years, and were part of the customary laws of war and binding on all parties whether the party had been a signer to the treaty or not

Decisions of laws of war:

1. Wars should be limited to achieve political goals that started the war; territory control, and should not include unnecessary destruction.
2. Wars should be brought to an end as quickly as possible.   WWI lasted from 1914 to 1918; WWII lasted from 1939 to 1945; Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953, Viet Nam War lasted from November 1, 1955 to August 15, 1973 with it really being over April 1975; Gulf War of Desert Storm last from January 16, 1991 to February 28, 1991-43 days; January 29, 2002-March 19, 2003 Iraq War when Iraq, North Korea and Iran were called the Axis of Evil by President Bush.  
3. People and property that do not contribute to the war effort should be protected against destruction and hardship.  (refugees and their homes) 

Acts of Kindness

Being Good includes doing acts of kindness.  This is when we may even have to exert ourself on behalf of another. Even if this results in our inconvenience or to the injury of our interests, we are to show humanity and love for our fellow mortals.  We are taught in the  Torah, "And you shall love your neighbor as yourself in  (Lev: 19:18).   Hillell said:  "what is hateful to you, do not do to others."  We call this the Golden Rule.

 1. We are taught to extend the hospitality of one's home for food and lodging as the need arises.
 2. We are to visit a person who is ill as soon as possible when you hear about the illness.
3. Orphaned girls should be helped to marry.
4. If you find something that isn't yours, you are to return it to its rightful owners.
5. You are to help keep  money or property of another from being  lost or damaged.
6. If you see a neighbor whose life is in danger, you must go to every trouble and expense to help him.  "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." (Lev. 19:16).
7. If you hear of a conspiracy against another human, you must tell him to reveal the danger. "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor."

We see so much of what is mentioned here as still being enacted in warfare today.  We can count our civilization having existed already for 4,000 years.  Surely the idea of good and evil must be recognized as being important if we are to continue living together.

Evil is when Iran is busy making uranium with the purpose of making an atomic bomb to drop on Israel.  When Prime Minister Netanyahu was speaking with Prime Minister Enrico Letta yesterday,  "He noted that many countries in Europe, North America and Asia have nuclear energy with neither centrifuges nor plutonium and added that Iran is insisting on centrifuges and plutonium in order to be able to produce enough materials for a nuclear bomb.'"  Evil is also being demonstrated by the world ignoring this fact.

We are told  to turn away from evil and in its place to do good.  We cannot turn away from evil by ignoring it.  I hope we are all on the same page as to what is evil and what is good.  Such use of uranium is for evil as its purpose is to destroy and to kill.  
Resource:  To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Haleavy Donin
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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