November 10th, 2006


A thought

There are those who say that the U.S. government’s decision to go to war on Iraq is justified by the fact that Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator; that removing him from power was surely worthwhile even though all the other justifications which were advanced for our involvement have proved to be untrue.

While I grant it is absolutely true that, all other things being equal, it is better that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, I’ve never been comfortable with that argument. This evening I was again reminded why:

    Justice, justice you shall pursue.
    —Deuteronomy 16:20

On page 41 of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s book, Jewish Wisdom, we read:

    They asked [Hasidic Rebbe Ya’akov Yitzhak, known as] the “holy Yehudi”: “Why is it written, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue?’ Why is the word ‘justice’ repeated?”
    He answered: “We ought to follow justice with justice, and not with unrighteousness.” That means: The use of unrighteousness as a means to a righteous end makes the end itself unrighteous.
    —Hasidic Rebbe Ya’akov Yitzhak of Pzhysha (1766–1814), quoted in Martin Buber, ed,. Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings, page 7