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GOLUS-----jews fighting wars

Please could you tell me what our sages teach about Jews fighting a war, from our Rabbis of the Talmud, Maimonides(I understand he wrote a book on the mishnah torah devoted to Jewish warfare) etc etc.

Although all the great and powerful ancient nations are gone, the Jews, have survived.

This is because the Jews throughout the centuries knew the secret of survival. Jewish survival, at least.

That is, whereas the other Nations survive based on who is stronger, where the Jewish nation is concerned, it is just the opposite. For us to remain safe, we are instructed by Hashem in the Gemora in Kesuvos not to defy the nations of the world, even when we are right and they are wrong. We do not survive by waging wars or by any show of physical strength. On the contrary - the less we are in conflict with the nations of the world, the safer we are. The more we are in conflict with them, the more deadly it is for us. Regardless of how physically "strong" we are.

This is how we have so miraculously survived two thousand years of Golus. By following the instructions of Torah and our sages throughout the generations: Do NOT fight with the Goyim.

If we do fight with them, we can only lose r"l. The Gemora says the result will be that Jewish blood will be spilled "like that of game hunted in the field."
Writes Rabbeinu Bachya (Vayishlach): "So too we must follow the ways of our ancestors, and to prepare ourselves to engage the [Goyim] with gifts and with soft speech, and by praying to Hashem. But [to engage them] with war is not possible, as it says (Shir HaShirim 2:7) 'I have made you swear....' Hashem made the Jews swear that they will not confront the nations of the world in war."

Our policy has always been - and must always be - to make peace with our enemies. Confrontation has always led to disaster. Says the Seforno (Berershis 33:4): "And Esav rushed [to greet Yaakov] - His attitude reversed because of Yaakov's giving in to him. As Chazal say (Taanis 20a) Achiyah HaShiloni cursed Klall Yisroel that they will be like a reed that bends to every wind [Moderator's Note: The Gemora says there that this "curse" of Achiya was better for the Jews that the "blessing" of Bilaem, since a reed that bends, survives. Bileam "blessed" them with the opposite.] Behold, if the Baryonim would have done so [i.e. made peace with the enemy] in the days of the second Bais HaMikdash, the Bais HaMikdash would not have been destroyed."

Says the Gemora in Pesachim (118b): "What caused the Jews to be scattered among the nations? The wars that they desired." Explains the Maharsha, "We may explain 'wars' here according to its plain meaning, that is, during the first Bais HaMikdash, if the Jews would have made peace with Nevuchadnezar, i.e. had Tzidkiyahu not fought him, they would not have gone into Golus at all. And more so during the second Bais HaMikdash, had the rebellious Jews listened to Rav Yochanan ben Zakai and to the sages of that generation, and made peace with Titus, they would not have been a Golus."

Note that at the time of the Baryonim and Tzidkiyahu we were not yet even in Golus. But Golus was imminent (See also Radak Yirmiyah 38:2). For Jews do not live by the strength of their hands - that is Esav's lot, Yedayim Yedei Asav.

The Noam Elimelech (Bereishis 33) writes: "'So you shall say to my master, to Esav' - Behold the holy Torah is teaching us how to behave in this bitter Golus, that we are put under the hand of the nations, and we must accept the Golus with love, until Hashem has mercy on us and quickly brings the everlasting redemption. And as long as we are in the bitter Golus we are obliged to be subservient to them [= the Goyim] and to refer to them as 'Masters'. This is [what it means when it says], 'So you should say to my Master, Esav', meaning, we should refer to him as master when speaking to him, and then, when he [nevertheless] continues to hurt us more than what is deemed appropriate, with taxes and tariffs, he will be considered a thief, and because of this Hashem will have mercy on us, for it is sufficient that we subjugate ourselves to them and give them honor".

And, even when we did go to war legitimately (in the days of the Kings), it wasn’t with an "army" like we imagine today.

In the days of the Maskilim, some frum Jews ran to Rav Chaim Brisker with a comic strip from some Maskilishe newspaper, which poked fun at the "old fashioned" Jews.

It showed Klall Yisroel getting ready to go to "war." The rabbis got up in front of the entire congregation and announced, OK, we are about to go to war. Anyone who is not on a high spiritual level should leave now!"

Half the assembled left.

Then the rabbi said, "Anyone who is scared to go to war should leave now."

Another three quarters left.

"Anyone who recently got married - leave now!". More left.

This went on and on, until, in the end, there were only two people left to fight the war: Rav Chaim Brisker and the Chofetz Chaim, all alone to fight against the Nations of the World.

They ran to Rav Chaim with this asking what they should do in response.

Rav Chaim read the comic strip panel by panel. "Very good", he said, when the Jews left the recruiting group for the first time.

"Excellent", he said, when he saw that those who recently got married had to leave.

"Perfect!" "Wonderful!" he said, panel by panel, as he read through the whole thing, till the end.

"Everything is wonderful," Rav Chaim said when he finished. "Except for one thing, that they forgot to write."

"what's that?" they asked him.

"We won the war."

The Seforim say that since the army is a dangerous place, in order to merit the shechinah to be with them, the troops have to be on an extra high level. Immorality automatically chases Hashem's presence from an army; the need for morality and righteousness is intensified greatly.

Our armies in the olden days had people like the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Chaim Brisker. We had prophets who would give us "intelligence" regarding enemy whereabouts and plans. We had an Urim V'Tumim that would tell us if we would win or lose the war.

A "Jewish army" is a totally different concept than a non-Jewish one. And that's when we do wage war. In Golus, war is doomed to fail, backfire, and cause deaths of Jews like hunted animals r"l.

Note: There is an exception. The above only applies when Jews are fighting to defend their lives. But when there is a decree not to kill Jews but to make them non-religious - a shmad - then, and only then, are we moser nefesh and take up arms against the enemy (like we did on Chanukah). For such a war is not a war for ourselves - it is a war for Hashem. We make Hashem's war ours, in such a case. Not a single Jews needed to die by the Chanukah decrees - they only had to give up Mitzvos and the Greeks would have been happy.

As opposed to Purim, for instance, where there was a decree to kill the Jews, there, we did not take up arms, and instead plotted a peaceful, "political" solution (of course, after the danger was over, and the government was on our side, we were able to "rise up" against the leftover enemies. But the decree was not met by physical resistance on the part of the Jewish nation.)

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