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‘Destroy their Holy Sites. Kill Men, Women and Children’

By Ami Eden for the JTA Blogs

The current issue of Moment magazine dedicates its “Ask the Rabbis” section to the question “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?”

Rabbis from various denominations offered responses, but it’s the final one — from a Chabad rabbi, Manis Friedman of the St. Paul-based Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies — that is likely to spark the most reaction:

I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. …



Click here to read Friedman’s full answer, as well as the other responses.

The editor of New Voices says… We told you so:

When we published Jeremy’s piece on Lubavitch rabbis on the radical fringe of the settler movement, we were accused of exaggerating their importance. We were told that they were marginal figures, outside of the influence of Lubavitch HQ in Crown Heights, and that few American Lubavitchers shared their extremism. Rabbi Friedman’s wacky-if-it-weren’t-scary comment in Moment should defuse some of that criticism. Friedman seems to be a fully integrated into the mainstream American Chabad movement. He was the Rebbe’s translator until 1990, he has almost 200 articles and videos up at chabad.org, the movement’s official propaganda arm, and his Minnesota women’s yeshiva is listed in the official online directory of Chabad outposts. His website is fancy and looks well-funded.

When I come across this sort of thing, I wonder at Chabad’s popularity among secular Jewish students. These aren’t just bad politics, they’re insane politics. At what point does the Chabad rabbi tell the prospective Ba’al Teshuva that he thinks that Israel should “destroy their holy sites”? Probably not at the first Shabbat dinner, right? Maybe after two Shabbat dinners, a “lunch and learn,” and a Birthright trip through Mayanot? …

38 Comments

  • 1. Love your tapes wrote:

    What on earth? That is Manis Friedman? Is he losing it like Baruch Goldstien?

  • 2. A. Lot Moore wrote:

    No. Baruch Goldstein actually did it. Manis Friedman said to say it. He is right. The first prime minister to say this will achieve true peice, thus avoiding having to do it!!

  • 3. Think please wrote:

    Now everybody calm down and before you react emotionally do a little bit of rational thinking.

    Take the last couple of ‘wars’ that Isarel fought, Lebanon and Gaza.

    What did the Arbas do? Hide behind women and children and use ‘holy places’ as weapons depots!

    So is R Friedman ‘radical’ or rational?

  • 4. YG wrote:

    Way to go Manis. Finally someone not afraid of speaking the truth. After reading through the various other “Rabbinical Assertions” you can become sick just seeing how people distort the words and ideologies of Torah Judaism. You can also see how many of them voted for Obama – but thats a side point. I would imagine that they are very proud of the work our president is doing on Israels behalf.

  • 7. YG wrote:

    Way to go Manis. Finally someone not afraid of speaking the truth. After reading through the various other “Rabbinical Assertions” you can become sick just seeing how people distort the words and ideologies of Torah Judaism. You can also see how many of them voted for Obama – but thats a side point. I would imagine that they are very proud of the work our president is doing on Israels behalf.

  • 9. menashe wrote:

    The moral war is the one that ends quickly. Avoiding targeting those things only extends war, which is immoral, especially with an enemy that davka hides in those places.

  • 10. Rivkie wrote:

    Manis Friedman is correct. How is being “nice” helping us? Terrorists dont understand being nice. If we stand up strongly and say the truth, that Israel was given to us by
    G-d and we have no right to give it away, and if we go in and destroy the terrorists before they come to attack, the entire area will be peaceful and the fear of Hashem will fall upon our enemies. If we try to be peace loving and we wait until they attack, that is showing mercy in a wrong way and chasve shalom our people are sacrificed,Hashem yirachem. King Shaul had pity on Amalek and look what happened!

  • 11. Raizy Kramer wrote:

    All the other rabbi’s opinions were so lame and pathetic, Rabbi Friedman speaks the truth, the Torah truth and may Israel have the courage to do what must be done very soon.

    Peace Forever

  • 12. .................................... wrote:

    to #1 Study a little Tanach and you will understand what he said. Shaul Hamelech didn’t kill the animals like Hashem told him to, because he thought he was more compasionate then Hashem. Well,the magicians turned themselves into animals, and from them survived AMALEK. When you are nice to cruel people like Israeli gov’t is to the Arabs then you end up being cruel to your own people like the Israeli gov’t is to the Jews.That is called destruction. The way to peace with the Arabs is thru war, and I hope Rabbi Manis Friedmans response ignites a massive war until every Jew on this planet earth understands what he said,and that will BRING MOSHIACH NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 13. Blind Freddie-s dog wrote:

    Boruch Goldstein HYD prevented a pogrom, and was hacked to death by those animals. There is no reason to speak of him disrespectfully.

  • 14. take everything with a grain of salt wrote:

    Unfortunately, R. Friedman is also the author of statements such as “treat the Rebbe (after 27 Adar) as you would your (old and sick)grandfather,” not as the Nasi haDor; which caused many problems. In this instance I agree with him. But he does tend to go for the sensationalistic.

  • 15. Michael H wrote:

    Of course at face value, his comments will arouse shock. Problem is, that after en eventual in depth analysis and expounding the ideals behind these statements, all rational human being whith an objective desire a true and everlasting solution, will see that the half measures as implemented so far in the region, create only mutants that become increasingly more destructive than the status of the conflict as it was before they were conceived. We the people who comment in spaces such as this one, have little on no influence on the situation on the ground; thou precisely because of this position, we are able to see the picture more objectively and uninfluenced by the pressures and fears for the consequences endured by those in charge. The reality is that were the state of Israel to adopt the Torah’s approach to deal with enemies such as the ones it faces today, its chances to permanent relief would be uncomparably more probable. Yes, I write as a religious person who would want this conflict resolved according to the principles of my religion and not according to current moral standards dictated by bullying goverments, media, NGOs and organisations with an agenda and the unashamed freedom to adapt and amend them to their own benefit; it has become taboo and uncool to admit to a religious credo and to wish for a just and moral goverment to adopt it, it has become politically incorrect to fathom the idea of fighting the enemy to the bitter end, and the enemy is not only males between the ages of 18 to 48, the enemy is its women and children too indocrinated and poisoned to have become part of it. The enemy that wants your destruction must be eliminated or disabled permanently. There is no shame to want it, and there are no half measures when dealing with it. We suffer and agonise for any loss of life, but our is more important than theirs. Hashem suffered due to the death of the Egiptians, but it was necessary and inevitable.
    I am incredibly impressed by Rabbi Friedman’s courage expressing what he believes. It will create enourmous repercussions, he may face long lasting criticism and attacks for it, but he did it because he knows it to be the truth and it needed to be said.
    We need people in the Knesset with this kind of conviction.
    Better yet, we need the Yeshua to come from HKB”H himself, speedily in our days.

  • 16. Love your tapes wrote:

    I stand corrected. firstly you are right that I should not talk about Baruch Goldstien negatively. I am sorry. Second. Maybe he is not losing it but going according to the Tanach but this is not the times of the Tanach. We were not commanded directly by Hashem to wipe them out. However, I do understand if he would have said that Israel should eliminate any threat even preemtively. If women, Children, “holy sites” and animals are in the way that is colateral damage.

  • 17. Dovid Hamelech Way!!! wrote:

    True peace come when you destroy your enemy to the point where they have no choice put to make peace.
    This idea is explained in Chassdice.
    Make your Enemy Bittel (nothing) and you have peace.

    It says that there was no peaceful time like the time of Shlomo Hamelech, why is that? who was before Shlomo?

    Before Shlomo was Dovid Hamelech, Dovid spent must of his kingship killing and destroying the enemy, by the time Shlomo took over, it was peaceful (nice and quiet).

  • 18. Just imagine if... wrote:

    Just imagine if Manis would be a Mishichist. Corp. Chabad would be up in arms! “He’s not a Lubavitcher”, “…a fringe sect” etc. etc. They would disown him… All the comments here would be negative…
    Some food for thought…

  • 19. Boruch Goldstein is a terrorist wrote:

    What Rabbi Friedman wrote is wrong, scary, and dangerous. If he really believes that we should be killing women and children in retaliation for terrorist attacks against us, then he himself is morally equivalent to those terrorists.

  • 20. Dovelle wrote:

    I don’t know if it is so prudent to say everything that may be the truth. You have to be diplomatic.

  • 21. Try to be a little more responsible wrote:

    I am 99% sure that his words are being quoted out of context, but he should be aware of his being a significant voice in chabad, and therefore should be a little lest trusting of journalists, particularly those papers with a leftist persuasions.

  • 22. People should learn torah... wrote:

    it seems that all those shocked are ignorant or think that torah does not apply today (Chas veshalom)…
    You just have to look in Chumash and see what torah says if you do not empty out the inhabitants of Israel…
    Look in Rambam and you will see clearly that this is a Milchemet Mitzvah, we are talking about survival of the Jews in Israel… And as such the rules of the game changes… Look in shulchan Aruch (that the Rebbe quoted many times) concerning hilul Shabbos (just for letting an Army pass through)… The laws of Rodeif (as opposed to Shoot only if you are shot first) etc… Torah is very clear when it comes to warfare… The problem is us, do we really believe or not…
    When a soldier goes to War, his life is in Danger, therefore if a terrorist hides among “innocent” people he should have the same right to defend himslef as the attacker, if not do not send them to their death, it’s immoral.

    Also according to the Noachide Laws, they are probably all Chayav Mita (according to Torah, that is right you read correctly) just as all of shchem were chayav mita…

    R. friedman just said what was given to Moses at Sinai.
    you can dress it up any way you like it, but the bottom line is the bottom line.

  • 23. justayid wrote:

    the context is he was asked a question and he answered it. this is what he believes.

    AFAIK this is against Torah. It certainly is against the rules of the IDF since 1948.

    What has being “nice” gotten us”? A state. Victories in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. That is what being nice (but tough) got us.

    Is Chabad willing to put this quote on its websites? Tell everyone about when they come to chabad events? Do they have the courage of their convictions, or will they hide it for the sake of kiruv?

  • 24. to clarify some comments wrote:

    this is not the days of Tanach. All the stories and Nevuos that were recorded in Tanach were specifically the ones that apply and pertain to us all today. There were hundreds and thousands of Nevuos that were not recorded in Tanach because they didn’t apply to future genereations.

  • 25. to what R.Manis wrote is wrong and scary wrote:

    I would suggest to you to watch Peace Upon The Land from JEM and then you will understand Torah’s approach to achieving true peace and security in the Holy Land. Also Rabbi Tauger’s book, but I forgot the name of it, I think eyes apon the land. The book “When Silence is a sin”. When you read these books, you will appreciate what R. Manis Friedman said.

  • 26. I-m in shock wrote:

    he should know better than to say something like that..even though I know he doesn’t mean that we should go in there and killing children…

    I’m in shock that there are so many commentators here that are totaly fine with those comments.

    And to top it all off bringing biblical refferences to proove that it’s okay?!!

  • 27. We want Moshiach now wrote:

    I just hope and pray that he won’t be pressured to apologize and go back on his words. When the pressure comes on heavy,big Rabbis change their Psak even from one extreme to the other.

  • 28. read the article wrote:

    He does NOT say we need to kill men women children and animals!!
    He says that that is the way of the tanach and “The first Israeli prime minister who DECLARES that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. ..”! Just getting up and showing the arabs that you have the courage to stand up to them and not even TALK about concessions etc. will bring peace

  • 29. are we safe? wrote:

    In the Tanach, the Jewish people were all living in one place, with a Jewish king. Now, when Jews are scattered throughout the world, such statements or actions could endanger, chas v’Shalom, Jewish lives or property, even outside of Israel. This should not have been printed.

  • 30. Anon wrote:

    What I think people are not realising is that Rabbi Friedman is not actually making a “call to arms” so to speak, and thinks we should all go out and start randomly killing women and children, but our army ZAHAL, on behalf of the Jewish Nation should follow the writings of the Torah to bring about peace in the middle east.
    It’s a path they haven’t yet taken, and maybe they should, and they will be victorious!!!!!!!!
    With that said MAY HASHEM SEND MOSHIACH NOW!!!!!!

  • 31. To CH.info wrote:

    It’s a little cheap to quote half his answer for the sake of sensationalism. His full answer clearly expresses what he believes:
    I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

    The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

    The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.

    Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.

  • 32. Yanky N. wrote:

    It would be interesting to see how Rabbi Friedman justifies his ludicrous, non-nonsensical beliefs, which he says are based on Torah. Where in the Torah does it say that there is an obligation to destroy everything? A critical reading of the Rambam indicates that the words Rabbi Friedman speaks are those of an extremist who not only advocates the violation of international law, but are not condoned by the Torah either.

    Rambam in Hilchos Melachim U’Milchemoseihem 5:1 says:

    ואיזו היא מלחמת מצוה–זו מלחמת שבעה עממים, ומלחמת עמלק, ועזרת ישראל מצר שבא עליהם. “What is a ‘mitzva’ war? It refers to the war with the Seven Nations [upon conquest of the land of Israel], the war with Amalek (an everlasting commandment), and assisting the Jewish people from the menaces that they face (i.e., defense).”

    Now, the Rambam goes on in 5:4-5 and says that the war with the Seven Nations and the war with Amalek require that the Jewish people destroy entire nations. However, the Rambam never gives this explicit Torah instruction for the third kind of mitzva war – a defensive war.

    So the Rambam tells us that there are three kinds of mitzva wars but only specifies that in two of them that there should be a wholesale destruction. We, especially as Lubavitchers, must read into this Rambam critically – just as we would with any other piece of Rambam. There must be a logical explanation why the Rambam omitted the details of a defensive war. Perhaps this was because defensive wars have to be fought by what works and what will be in the Jewish people’s best interest, not by inhumanely destroying everything in one’s path? Perhaps the Torah wanted to leave enough room to politicians (i.e., the king), strategists and military experts to determine what is in the Jewish people’s best interest and what will be the proper course of carrying out a war? The Rambam allows for discretion in fighting a battle, and it’s arguable from other sources that there is a preference for human life and minimal destruction.

    Nonetheless, Rabbi Friedman sees fit to extend the obligations of war to an extreme where even the Rambam didn’t take it. Rabbi Friedman is no military expert and he has not provided a Torah-basis for his explanation. The fact that the Jewish people fought one way in biblical times is no indication that it would he appropriate, or even helpful, today. Unless Rabbi Friedman can substantiate his extremist views, I hope he publicly rescinds these inflammatory words.

  • 33. Shmuly wrote:

    It’s easy to talk tough from the comfort and safety of your house in Minnesota, especially when you have never strapped on a gun and gone to war.
    I would love to see all the tough talkers actually move to Israel, fight in the army, and shoot down women and children.

  • 34. D.A wrote:

    B”H
    R. Friedman,
    someone had to say it, Good for you! Stay strong, don’t recant you have friends that will stand with you.

  • 36. seen on JTA.org wrote:

    “Friedman, of St. Paul, Minn., also said that his published comments were “misleading” and were meant to address not how Jews should treat their neighbors but how they should act in a time of war.

    “I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!) — when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places!” Friedman wrote in a clarification issued through a Chabad spokesperson. “I apologize for any misunderstanding the words printed in my name created.”

  • 38. concerned wrote:

    Tell me he’s kidding. Someone so well known should be more careful about who he says what to. It’s well and good that the majority of people reading on this site understand where he’s coming from, but most others would need an extensive background introduction to understand what he means. I personally think his points are valid and important but it makes all the difference how you say things, especially when talking to a wide audience.

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