Matos-Massei: Is Revenge Kosher?



How should we perceive the nuclear agreement with Iran? What does the Torah teach us about confronting forces that threaten our lives? Should we ever give our enemies the benefit of the doubt?

There is nothing quite as delicious as some good old-fashioned payback. When someone wrongs you, a whopping helping of sweet revenge delivered via wronging them back can seem most satisfying.

It may be true that revenge is a dish best served cold but a dish best served it nevertheless is.

But here is the question: Are we allowed to take revenge?

Anyone who has opened the Torah to the Book of Leviticus knows that,You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge. The Torah emphatically prohibits acts of vengeance.

And yet we find something quite contrary, even seemingly conflicting, in this week’s Torah reading, which not only condones revenge but even commands it against a certain nation – Midian.

How can that be?

The answer lies in a beautiful understanding of the unity of the family of Israel, where tit-for-tat has no place. And it gives us insight in how to treat a country like Iran.

This message is further illustrated by a story about the inventor of the radar – who got caught in a radar speeding trap by the very technology he invented.

So much for payback.


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