The Torah declares:
“You shall not taunt a stranger or oppress him, for you were
strangers in the Land of
“If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey wandering astray, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying under its load, you shall refrain from passing by him; you shall surely help him with it.” (Ex. 23:4-5)
“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know
the soul of a stranger, for you were strangers in the Land of
“You shall not curse the deaf, and you shall not place an obstacle before the blind; you shall fear your God -- I am HaShem.” (Lev. 19-14)
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow, but you shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the members of your people, but you shall love your fellow as yourself; I am HaShem.” (Lev. 19:17-18)
“And when a stranger resides among you in your Land, you
shall not taunt him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the
native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, because you were
strangers in the Land of
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not remove completely the corners of your field as you reap, and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest, [because] you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger; I am HaShem your God.” (Lev. 23:22)
“There shall be one standard of law for you; it shall be for the stranger [and] for the native; for, I am HaShem your God.” (Lev. 24:22)
“And if your brother becomes impoverished, and his means [of supporting himself] fail in your proximity, then you shall strengthen him -- stranger or resident -- that he may live with you.” (Lev. 25:35)
“For the congregation, there shall be one decree for you and for the stranger who sojourns [among you], a perpetual decree throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before HaShem. One teaching and one judgment shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Num. 15:15-16)
“You shall not deliver a [gentile] slave to his [gentile] master who has escaped from his [gentile] master to you. [Rather] he shall dwell with you in your midst, in whatever place he will choose in one of your cities, which is beneficial to him; you shall not taunt him.” (Deut. 23:16-17)
The Torah also declares:
“Beware of what I command you Today: Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivvite, and the Jebusite. Be vigilant not to seal a covenant with the inhabitants of the Land to which you are coming, since they will be a fatal trap for you.” (Ex. 34:11-12).
“And you will pursue your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” (Lev. 26:7-8)
“HaShem spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan [River], at Jericho, saying, ‘Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, “When you cross the Jordan [River] to the Land of Canaan, you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the Land from before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all their molten images shall you destroy; and all their high places shall you demolish. You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it.”’” (Num. 33:50-53)
“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the land in which you dwell. And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you.” (Num. 33:55-56).
“When HaShem, your God, will bring you to the Land to which you come to possess, He will cast out before you many nations -- the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivvite, and the Jebusite, [being] seven nations greater and mightier than you. And HaShem, your God, will deliver them up before you, and you shall assault them, utterly destroying them; you shall not make any covenant with them, and you shall not show them any mercy. And you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son. For, he will turn away your child from [following] after Me, and they will worship other gods; and the anger of HaShem will burn against you, and He will destroy you quickly. Rather, so shall you deal with them: You shall break apart their altars, and you shall smash their pillars, and you shall cut down their sacred trees, and you shall burn with fire their engraved images.” (Deut. 7:1-5)
“You shall devour all the peoples that HaShem, your God, will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, and you shall not worship their gods; because it is a snare for you.” (Deut. 7:16)
“But from the cities of these peoples that HaShem, your God, gives you as an inheritance, you shall not allow any person to live. Rather you shall utterly destroy them -- the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivvite, and the Jebusite, as HaShem, your God, has commanded you, so that they will not teach you to act according to all their abominations that they performed for their deities, so that you will sin to HaShem, your God.” (Deut. 20:16-18).
Which is it? Is a Jew
living in the Land of
If that fellow resident is a law-abiding Jew, or if that fellow resident is a law-abiding Gentile who is permitted to inhabit the Land of Israel (according to the criteria set forth in the Hebrew Bible), then a Jew is required to treat him with love and respect, even if he has been personally affronted by the other. Moreover, this same obligation is also imposed upon the Jewish people in its collective capacity. This means that the national and local leaderships of the Jewish State, acting as the collective representatives of the Jewish people living in the Land, must zealously protect the rights of all of its legitimate inhabitants -- whether they are temporary or permanent residents of the Land. Accordingly, the first set of Torah passages describes the circumstances under which the Jew, in both his individual and collective capacities, must apply the principles of Kindness.
However, if that fellow resident is a member of a gentile nation which claims sovereignty (or even non-sovereign possessory rights) over any portion of the Land of Israel, or if that fellow resident otherwise seeks the expulsion or annihilation of the Jewish people from the Land, then the Jewish people in its collective capacity, acting through the national leadership of the Jewish State, is required to expel or annihilate such a national enemy from the Land. Accordingly, the second set of Torah passages describes the circumstances under which the Jew, in his collective capacity, must apply the principles of Cruelty.
© Mark Rosenblit