Halakhah: Jewish Law

August 1, 2006

“The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews—all of them in all different levels—is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”, Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine. 

In Omar Barghouti’s article, ‘The massacre at Qana’, he quotes a passage from the late Israeli academic and human rights advocate, Israel Shahak, who ‘traced the roots of Israeli public justification for killing Palestinians, for instance, to similar readings of the tenets of Halakhah. While the murder of a Jew is considered a capital offence in Jewish law, the murder of a Gentile is treated quite differently. “A Jew who murders a Gentile,” Shahak reveals, “is guilty only of a sin against the laws of heaven, not punishable by court.” Indirectly, but intentionally, causing the death of a Gentile is “no sin at all.”  More about Jewish Fundamentalist interpretations of Halakhah can be found here.

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