Pidyon Shvuyim

As you've heard, Hizballah is asking for the trade for the 3 IDF soldiers it has taken captive for 1,500 terrorists which are now residing in Israeli prisons. 3 for 1,500. Does that seem balanced to you? It doesn't to me. However Israel has made such agreements before. In 1985 1,150 prisoners were released in what came to be known as the "Jibril deal". Many more were released due to the Oslo agreement. Israel was promised peace for this but found out that the prisoners they'd released only came back to kill more Israelis. More Israeli deaths and still no peace.

Now they are faced again with this dilemma. Do we set the terrorist prisoners free and hope we'll get our boys back or do we make a statement and let them know that we don't make deals with terrorists. If they make the statement, then it affects Israeli soldiers on the field, they worry that their government wont do whatever necessary to obtain their freedom if they are caught.
The debate over rescuing captives is called pidyon shvuyim lit.=the redemption of captives.

The concept that there is a limit to what we will pay is best illustrated in the story of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch, better known as Maharam of Rothenburg, the head of German Jewry in the last half of the 13th century. As conditions worsened for the Jews in Germany, many sought to escape the brutal pogroms and draconian taxation by fleeing to Eretz Yisrael. Emperor Rudolf I, fearing the loss of Jewish gold, declared the Jews his personal property and, in 1286, forbade them to leave Germany.

Maharam vigorously opposed the emperor and attempted to escape the country with his family. But a Jewish apostate informed upon him and he was imprisoned by Rudolf in the castle of Ensisheim. The emperor demanded an exorbitant ransom before he would free Maharam.

German Jewry was prepared to pay the enormous sum of 23,000 talents of silver for his release. But Maharam himself forbade the exchange, arguing that it would only serve to encourage more kidnappings and extortion within vulnerable Jewish communities. Maharam languished in prison for seven years until he died in 1293; his body was not released for burial until 14 years later, when it was redeemed by a wealthy Jew.

His heroic act of self-sacrifice sent the message that there are times when the price of freedom can be too high. By refusing to pay the blackmail that was demanded of his people, Maharam assured that never again would rabbinic leaders be taken hostage.

What we should do is offer 3 terrorists for three soldiers. No more no less. The precedent we set for "a few for 1500" in the Jabril deal did not work and even hurt us in the long run. Of course the Terrorists will not go for such a deal so we will need to do all we can to rescue them by other means. If we can't rescue them then our brave Israeli soldiers should know that we see them as the Rabbi Maharam's of our day and that they are saving Jewish lives for years to come.

Shalom in Him,
Rabbi Stanley

To the Mosaic Site
To the Mosaic Site
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