April 8, 2024
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Should We Be Super-Happy When the Hamas Murderers Are Caught and Killed?

Klal Yisroel has been through a lot since October 7. When the horrible murderers are caught, however, should we be celebrating?

Should we be celebrating the eventual death of Sinwar by, say, handing out cookies on the street? Are we not disgusted when Palestinians celebrate the deaths of Jews by handing out food?

There is no question that the sentiment is understandable—and there is a substantive difference. The man in the video is celebrating the death of a murderer. Palestinians celebrate the death of innocent Jewish victims. The two cases are worlds apart and should not be compared at all. This author has met victims—children in a hospital with severe brain injuries.

 

Two Pesukim in Mishlei

There is a verse in the 24th chapter of Mishlei written by Shlomo HaMelech. It is pasuk 18 and it states: “In the falling (death) of your enemy, do not rejoice.”

We must also keep in mind another seemingly contradictory earlier verse. It was also written by Shlomo HaMelech, “In the death of evil-doers – exhuberance!” (Mishlei 11:10). How are these two verses to be understood together?

 

The Ralbag’s Understanding: Too Much Is Not Good

The Ralbag in interpreting the previous pasuk to the one quoted above, writes that inappropriate rejoicing over the matter will lead to Hashem removing His Divine anger against that enemy and placing it upon you. It is clear from this Ralbag that too much rejoicing is wrong and dangerous. But what is too much?

It is interesting to note that the Alshich in Esther (5:3) writes that this is exactly why Esther wished to make Haman rejoice at the party. She did so for the Divine will to be turned against the evil Haman on account of his rejoicing at the fall of Israel.

 

Appropriate Rejoicing Is OK

We can infer from the Ralbag that although inappropriate rejoicing is wrong, appropriate rejoicing, where one is on the correct spiritual level, is fine. This is the type of rejoicing that is indicated in Mishlei, chapter 11.

 

The Maharsha and Rabbeinu Yonah’s Views

But what exactly is the correct spiritual level?

The Maharsha in Megillah 28a understands the verse in chapter 24 as referring to someone who is rejoicing because of his feeling of hate toward his enemy. Rabbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos 4:19 writes that that the high level in which rejoicing is permitted is if one does so in celebration of the kavod Shamayaim, of the honor due to God at the fall of this evil-doer. This may be very much in line with our Ralbag.

The fact that the person handing out the cookies was asking people to make a bracha to Hashem fits with the Rabbeinu Yonah. According to the Maharsha and Rabbeinu Yonah, the YouTube video is kosher.

 

The Alshich’s View

The Alshich (Tehillim 5:11) qualifies the verse in Mishlei to refer only to a personal enemy, but one whose evil is so much against God—the opposite feeling is in order—one should, in fact, rejoice. Thus the chapter 11 verse refers to one who is so evil in the eyes of God. The Alshich does not distinguish between our own levels, but rather the type of enemy that the pasuk refers to.

 

The Other View: Meshech Chochman and the Gerrer Rebbe

The Meshech Chochma (Shmos 12:16) writes that upright individuals do not rejoice at the death of others as do, say, some of the other nations. This seems to be across the board. Thus, on Passover, we celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people and not the fact that God punished the Egyptians. Similarly, on Chanukah, we celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting and not the fall of the Syrian Greeks. It would seem that the Meshech Chochma is not in agreement with the aforementioned Alshich in Tehillim.

The Gerrer Rebbe on Sukkos 5658 also expressed this thought. He explained that even though Yom Tovs must all have simcha, the word is used only regarding Sukkos and not Pesach. Why? The death of the Egyptians that occurred on Pesach made applying the word simcha to Pesach, inappropriate.

The Yalkut Shimoni (Mishlei 960) also points out that we do not recite a full Hallel on Pesach except for the first day because of the notion of not overly rejoicing over the deaths of enemies. Also, the Midrash points out that Noah refrained from marital intimacy during the time that the evildoers in the world were being destroyed on account of the notion of the verse in chapter 24. Seemingly, this Midrash is not in accordance with the distinctions made by the Alshich and the Ralbag.

 

Not All Agree

It may also be suggested that the notion was perhaps not necessarily universally adhered to by all of Israel. How so? In Pirkei Avos (4:19) Shmuel HaKatan says almost the exact same thing as King Solomon did in Mishlei. The Rambam and the Bartenura point this out but remark that Shmuel actually utilized and taught this approach. The fact that the Mishna singles Shmuel HaKatan out for this indicates that it may not necessarily have been kept so universally. In fact, it could be that King David himself, the father of King Shlomo may have erred in his reciting of joyful song at the fall of Kush Ben Yemini, as pointed out in Midrash Tehillim (7).

The conclusion? It seems that the words of Rebbeinu Yonah on Pirkei Avos that if one rejoices at the kavod Shamayim, the honor that finally justice has been accomplished with the knowledge that the honor of Heaven has been further enhanced and uplifted with this man’s death, then one may rejoice, but nonetheless, it should still be tempered.

We do recite Hallel on Pesach, but not a full one. One should make sure that the feeling come from a proper, not improper, emotion. One may also take pride in the fact that one was the tool for which the honor of Heaven was uplifted.

It is this author’s view that the request to recite a bracha and not fully mentioning the death of the rasha (evil one) is not excessive per se and indicate that the person’s kavanos (intentions) were on a high level. Also, it seems that the motivation was, “Finally, our citizens are being protected.” This is a proper sentiment.


The author can be reached at [email protected].

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