Nov 29, 2009

Rav Shwartz: Releasing terrorists for Gilad Shalit

Rav Yisroel Schwartz is the dayan of Kehillas HaYeraim in Yerushalayim. Rav Schwartz lost his wife in a terrorist attack - the bus bombing of the Number 2 bus on Shmuel HaNavi street in 2003. Bechadrei went to Rav Schwartz to ask him his opinion on a possible deal to release terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit's freedom.

I sat with Rav Schwartz a few times in the past, and I know Rav Schwartz to be a very straight person with halachic considerations at his consideration at all times.

I know the halacha can be debated, and I understand both sides have valid points over whether or not terrorist murderers should be released. Also, I generally believe that while people who lost relatives have the right to, and should, voice their opinions about such things, the State has an obligation to not listen to them but to do what it feels is right. The families of the victims speak from an emotional position. The State has to do what it feels is right for the country - diplomatically, security, socially, etc. It has a lot more to take into consideration.

Rav Schwartz in the video interview supports releasing terrorists in exchange for Shalit. His main halachic argument is the "Bari V'Shema" argument. We know Shalit is in danger. We don't know for sure that the terrorists will do any more damage once released than they already do with these guys in jail. He says that they don't care about specific people - they educate their children to hate and kill us regardless of whether someone is released or not. So it is doubtful whether anything will change if they are released. Therefore, Rav Schwartz holds, it is incumbent upon us to release terrorists to make the exchange.

The video interview


  1. It's a good point, but:

    a) there's also a grey area which is "karov l'vadai"; these are experienced guys who will most likely return to kill, and they may be better at it than the guys that Israel hasn't bothered to arrest (the fact that Israel found it necessary to arrest them may be "raglayim l'davar" that they are a more dangerous group);

    b) Rav Schwartz is not in a position to make the kind of assumptions that he does; he does not know what kind of blow it was to the terrosist infrastructure to have these people taken out of the picture, and how it will buttress it once they return.

    May the price we pay for bringing Gilad Shalit home not be more than we can bear.

  2. the halachic decision will depend on how you look at the Hamas and PA people. I understand both sides of the argument, as far as halacha is concerned.

    I am happy I am not the one who has to make the decision. That is for sure.


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