Jun 27, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER
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As the debate surrounding gun control has become a central issue in the US, one rabbi in Israel weighs in, offering a Biblical perspective on the controversial topic. Rabbi Avi Grossman of Machon Shilo recently recorded a Torah class dealing exclusively with what the Torah says about the right to bear arms.

Examples from the Bible

Rabbi Grossman kicked off the presentation by noting that the ancient Israelites in Egypt were not allowed to bear arms should they revolt against their slave owners. But the fact that the Bible makes a point of mentioning that they finally did have the means to defend themselves against their Egyptian slave owners enabled them to realize their destiny of leaving Egypt:

Now the Israelites went up armed out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:18)

Rabbi Grossman also notes that Devorah’s song lamented a largely unarmed Nation of Israel slated to fight the mighty Canaanite warriors in battle after failing to evict them from the Land of Israel.

When they chose new gods, Was there a fighter then in the gates? No shield or spear was seen Among forty thousand in Yisrael! (Judges 5:8)

The Jewish sage Ralbag explains that when Barak, along with the tribes of Zevulun and Naftali, eventually won the war against the Canaanites, it was not “due to their own strength,” Rabbi Grossman said, explaining that “they didn’t have weapons.”

Rabbi Avi Grossman (screenshot)

“You had 40 000 Israelites, and you had one spear and one shield. They were so unarmed,” the rabbi opined.
He also cited Jonathan’s war he waged against the Philistines. Like Pharaoh, the Philistines prevented the Israelites from bearing arms and therefore outlawed the Jews from blacksmithing.
No blacksmith was to be found in all the land of Yisrael, for the Philistines were afraid that the Hebrews would make swords or spears. (Samuel 13:19)

“Jonathan actually had one sword’ one spear,” he explains.

“Everybody else was armed with sticks and stones basically or farm tools before this fight. Because of Saul’s victories eventually, he was able to begin to arm his Israelite armies such that it was quite good by David’s time.”

Gun control: The way of Israel’s oppressors

“The point is that gun control has is and always was the way of Israel’s oppressors,” Rabbi Grossman asserted, adding that “of course, we can appreciate the wisdom of a second amendment.”
For those who may believe that the Bible encourages weapons for armies but not for individuals, the rabbi explains that the Torah “makes no real distinction” between national defense and personal self-defense.
“It’s important that every adult male jew know how to use his weapons in defense of himself and in defense of God’s people,” he said.

“I find it very alarming that someone was worse to suggest at least for us uh that the Jewish people should lay down their arms.”
He mentions the teachings of Maimonides, who says that one not only has the moral obligation to defend himself but also to defend others who are in danger of being killed, citing the commandment to kill a “rodef.” According to the Torah, these include home invaders as the thief knows that a life-and-death confrontation is a likely risk.
Regarding the notion of equal force when defending oneself, Rabbi Grossman calls it “ridiculous,” adding that if the defender “has a cannon,” he can use it to protect himself against a life-threatening attack no matter the attacker’s weapon.
Regarding an “ideal Jewish society,” the rabbi says, ” the way we could stay a free and healthy people is by staying armed.”

Regarding gentiles, the rabbi stressed that: “The Torah doesn’t tell them don’t have guns. The Torah tells them to educate and to follow the laws that God gave them and to enforce these laws.”