Our Day in Westport takes us to a 500 year old historic house
GOOD MORNING! Would you murder one person to save a million lives? What if that person were a 99 year old person who had already lived out the prime years of his life? Weighing one against the other, it might seem to make sense. Yet, intuitively we know that it is not right. Why?
What is the value of a life? How do we measure the value of one life versus another?
In the book Holocaust and Halacha, the situation is related of a concentration camp inmate asking a rabbi, "The Nazis have imprisoned one hundred children who they plan to murder tomorrow morning. My son is among them. I can bribe the guard to free my son, but if I do, the Nazis will grab someone else's son to replace mine. Rabbi, may I bribe the guards to free him?"
The rabbi refused to answer. From his silence, the father derived the rabbi's answer -- he was forbidden to free his son at the expense of someone else's life ... and did not bribe the guard.
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 74a), discussing a similar predicament, states, "How do you know your blood is redder? Maybe his blood is redder?" Rashi, commenting on the Talmud, elucidates: "Who knows that your blood is more precious and more dear to your Creator than the blood of someone else?" How can one weigh the value of one life against the value of another? How can one know which person is more precious? Each individual is an entire world.
This makes sense when dealing with one life versus another. However, how does it explain saving one life at the expense of a million? Can't we say with confidence that in God's eyes millions of lives are more precious than one?
At the heart of this issue is how one measures the value of life. Every person is born with a unique personality and set of circumstances and a certain amount of potential for growth. Where we begin is beyond our control. However, we are responsible for where we end up and the choices we make along the way.
A person's real worth is the result of the choices he makes in his effort to grow. To determine the value of his life we must take every factor and detail of his existence into account. The complexities involved in making such a judgment are staggering -- which is exactly why no human being is in the position to judge the worth of another. No one knows the challenges of another person or his potential or what the Almighty expects from him. We can never measure someone's true value. That is God's business alone. And it is never a good idea to play God.
We can judge another person's actions, but not his worth. These two judgments are separate, the former belonging to man and the latter belonging only to God. Therefore, whether it is a million lives or millions of lives versus one 99 year old person, maybe that one life is more precious and dear to the Almighty. How can we know? The issue has nothing to do with numbers. The judgment is not ours to make, no matter how many lives are involved.
The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a, teaches us "If a person destroys a life, it is as if he destroyed an entire world. If a person saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world." Each and every life has value, tremendous value!
So what do you think? How many lives are worth one?
On the same Vein, with rockets flying on both sides, I share this piece about the current Israel situation:
Posted: 18 Nov 2012 10:55 PM PST
To the Editor:
Mr. Robert Fisk, in his article of Sunday, November 18, correctly observes that the rockets sent by Hamas into civilian towns are intended to kill as many men, women and children as possible. He then claims that the same is true of the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
As of the time of writing, the IDF has carried out over 1300 attacks on the densely-populated Gaza, with fighter planes, heavy artillery boats, and the world's most sophisticated weaponry. Yet only 81 Palestinians, and only half of them civilians, have been killed. Assuming that the world's most advanced and powerful weaponry is not completely useless, the conclusion is obvious. Not only is Israel not trying to kill as many men, women and children as possible; it is exerting extraordinary effort to minimize the loss of civilians. And not only is this true; it is very obviously true, by looking at the power of the IDF and the results of its efforts.
Mr. Fisk laments that there are those who would call him an antisemite for his charge. What, then, is the correct term for someone who issues an obviously false and extraordinarily defamatory libel against the Jewish State?
Bet Shemesh, Israel
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