This post is more of a conversation and discussion starter than a report or opinion.
I recently attended a lecture delivered by the Masorti Movement in Israel’s most respected and authoritative halakhic authority where he explained why it was forbidden according to Jewish law to redeem captured soldiers by releasing prisoners. I was a bit taken aback, considering the lecture was on practical halakhah. Sure, for Israelis this is sadly a practical matter, but I wondered if Israelis at large cared to mix their politics with Jewish law.
I asked the rabbi if he thought making a public halakhic decision such as this would effect morale in the army. His response was simply it is forbidden to endanger “the entire Jewish people by saving one Jewish person.” I found this answer unsatisfactory and inaccurate to the situation at hand. I told him I cannot argue with his halakhah, since he knows worlds more than I, but wondered if his position was politically savvy or ethically sound. I’m curious what peoples’ thoughts are regarding the specific case of Gilad Shalit, who finds himself entering his third year of captivity in Gaza, and in the general mixing of Jewish law and politics. Is such a Jewish legal position positive in a politically democratic society? Should Israeli politicians consider Jewish law in their legislating and decision making? If soldiers are not redeemed by releasing prisoners, should they be redeemed with money? force? other means? Anyone have thoughts?