ASK THE POSEK
MILITARY COURT'S JUSTICE
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Shalom Rabbi Bloomenstiel,
- Is the death sentence meted by military courts valid under Noahide laws?
No court today has authority under the Noahide laws to administer capital punishment. Capital punishment can only be meted out by a Noahide court, established and staffed by committed, religiously motivated Noahides (chasidei umos ha-olam) who are judging based on the Torah’s laws for Noahides. Any court lacking those requirements still satisfies the mitzvah of dinim, but does not have the authority to administer the death penalty.
- How about extra judicairy powers given to certain government agencies ( licence to kill) to protect the security of the nation? Is this murder?
No – if it is necessary to protect the lives of others then it is permitted. This is the law of the “rodef,” the pursuer, that we mentioned in the lessons on abortion. This is not a matter of law in the sense that we are not judging the person and determining that they have deserved to die. Rather, it is a separate requirement to save and preserve life.
- If the jury release an obviously guilty individual and did not uphold justice, then if the victimise party mete justice e.g wipeout the community for not upholding the law just like Simeon and Levi ? Is this action then justified?
Very complicated question. General answer is “no.” However, this is a very fact-dependent situation and each case must be dealt with individually. Also – the understanding you have presented of the incident with Shimon and Levi is according to the explanation of the Rambam, which is a difficult and controversial approach.
Such a scenario has happened in Kalimantan Borneo in 2001. When the ethnic Dayaks felt that they could not get justice from the provincial government towards wrong against them. They decided to take the matter into their own hands when one of their maiden was assaulted and murdered by the migrant communities which were brought in by the goverment resettling scheme. Six week of of violence and headhunting ensued as the tribesmen meted justice they felt was overdue. Is this murder or justified action to seek redress denied them because of corrupt governance.
Whoa! Certainly unjustified from a perspective of Torah law. There are times when revolt is the only way to bring change. However, the Torah is not in favor of bloodshed as the optimum solution.
For a far more in-depth and advanced study of all the Seven Noahide Laws consider taking the Noahide Laws Yeshiva Course.