Sunday, December 03, 2006


Principles vs. Survival

This question was raised at Friday night Oneg relating to whether Israel even needs to follow Jewish law regarding waging war (whether it does or not is a different question), but it is also relevant to our war on terrorism (and c.f. Benjamin Franklin's version of this question): if a society abandons its basic principles in order to survive, does society's mere survival mean anything? In such a case, where the society violates its foundational principles, can the society really be said to even have survived or has the society killed itself?

Fundamentally, that's the message of the curses in Torah and the message of the Prophets, nu? Even if Israel does manage to survive, if it abandons its commitment to Jewish principles, does it really survive as Israel or as some entity that calls itself Israel? If our country abandons our principles for the sake of survival, has America really survived as the country that has become so great and mighty or has it survived as some entity calling itself and claiming the mantle of the US of A but which is really an entirely different being to which us citizens owe no patriotic loyalty?

And when the commonweal collapses, what's left? OTOH, sometimes ya gotta wonder if that is exactly what certain people want? For America as we know it to collapse and to be replaced with a manorial shell of a country. What's ironic is that too many people still call those who want to burn the village to save it "patriots" even though they are patently nothing of the sort.

Hillel dealt with a similar sort of problem in a slightly different way, through questions:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?

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