Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Saddam's Dead, May We Rejoice?

So now that Saddam Hussein, a sworn enemy of the Jewish people, has finally been killed, should we rejoice or not?

What is the proper Torah perspective?

There is a Passuk (Mishlei 24:17) that states; When your enemy falls do not be happy and when he stumbles your heart should not gladden.

However, the Gemorah (Megillah 16a) tells us that this only applies to one’s Jewish enemies, but one is allowed to rejoice in the downfall of one’s non-Jewish enemies.

On the other hand the Gemorah (Megillah 10b) tells us that when the Egyptians were drowning in the Red Sea, the angels attempted to sing praise to Hashem, to which Hashem answered, “my handiwork is drowning in the sea, and you are singing praise?!”.

The implication of this is that one should not rejoice even in the downfall of non-Jewish enemies.

After much research I have come across a Maharsha (Brachos 9b) who seems to differentiate between angels and people. Angels are not allowed to sing praise even while non-Jewish enemies are drowning, but people are not included in this restriction.

Perhaps one can understand the Maharsha’s reasoning as follows. The non-Jewish enemies are not enemies of the angels themselves; therefore the fact that they are still Hashem’s handiwork overrides their desire to praise Hashem. The Jewish people, on the other hand, were the ones actually threatened by these enemies, and therefore they are allowed to rejoice in the downfall of these non-Jewish enemies.

I was thinking to explain the contradiction somewhat differently.

Perhaps there actually exists no difference between angels and people. The difference lies in WHEN the rejoicing is taking place. It is wrong to rejoice while the non-Jewish enemy is in the process of dying or extreme torture, and accordingly the angels were not allowed to sing praise while the Egyptians were drowning. But one is allowed to rejoice when the non-Jewish enemy is merely in the process of its downfall, or after the downfall has been completed.

Either way, we humans can rejoice over Saddam Hussein’s death, as it is both us people rejoicing, and not at the time of his actual death.


Y.Y. said...

i think his execution was wrong his trial was wrong everything about this war in iraq is wrong like the removal of a judge that leaned towards not guilty so the USA fires him and replaces him with a puppet judge its very sad that a country that supoosed to be the leader of the free world has policies worse than communist russia

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Great post thanks for the different torah interpretations.

anonym00kie said...

hmm.. i actually felt nautious watching the hanging, anf then i felt a little guilty.. like shouldnt i be rejoicing?
but now with your explanation, it makes sense.. i wasnt supposde to rejoice at the time of the killing, but now that its done with.. yay

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Y.Y. –
There may have been mistakes made. But Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator who killed masses of innocent people.

Socialworker/frustratedmom –
My pleasure.

Anonym00kie –
I’m glad you now know what’s right.

Y.Y. said...

Y.Y. –
There may have been mistakes made. But Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator who killed masses of innocent people.

says who? george bush? i think bush killed more innocent people in texas as governer than saddam in that short time frame

Rafi G said...

Most of what you wrote is similar to what I wrote on December 31 in the comments of my post that can be found here:

you added the additional pshat of timing which is also very possibly correct.

Great minds think alike!

And all you doubters - regardless of who brought him to justive, the fact is he killed thousands and millions of people just because they opposed him. I do not like Bush either, and maybe he was the wrong person to lead this and to see it through, but you ccannot use that as a way of saying maybe Saddam was ok.
He was pure evil and he tried to attack Israel and hurt the Jews. The Iran - Iraq war was devastating to iraqi jews as they were used (on both sides of the war) as fodder and killed needlessly. He constantly expressed his desire to be the destroyer of Israel and considered himself the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar.

yingerman said...

No doubt saddam was a bad guy, I think were fooling our selves in thinking that its actually gonna change anything.
yay 1 out of 4 billion bad guys was killed whoopdy doo.

From this point of view it doesnt really matter if saddam was killed or not, but the fact that lots n'lots of Iraqis are happy that he's dead, now thats worth celebrating.

davidonthelake said...

In this weeks Mishpacha theres an interview with an Iraqi Jewish leader...who suffered under saddam..and when asked how he's celebrating..he said
Binfol Oyvecha Al Tismach..

do not rejoice at the fall of ur enemies

Independent Frum Thinker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Independent Frum Thinker said...

Y.Y. –
Please do your research.
Did Saddam Hussein not gas Kurdish villages, killing innocent civilians? Did he not kill and torture anyone perceived to be a threat to his power? Did he not terrorize Israel during the Gulf war?
I’m amazed that you can write that President Bush killed more innocent people in Texas than did Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I sincerely hope it was a poor (and unsuccessful) attempt at a joke.

Rafi g –
I’m glad we converged on this.
Your attempt to present the facts to the above commenter is appreciated.

Yingerman –
It probably won’t change the current situation much, but the removal of such a wicked person definitely doesn’t hurt.

Davidonthelake –
He may be unaware that the Passuk is referring to Jewish enemies only, as I quoted in my post from The Gemorah. However, a more likely explanation is that he is fearful of who may hear his words and decide to take revenge.