Self Defense notions from a Patriarch

So this last week the Parasha was Vayishlach. This is an exciting portion. It’s when Jacob/Yakov/Israel returns home from his exile working for his crooked uncle Laban. Yakov had fled his brother Esav’s murderous rage after Esav regretted having sold his birthright for a bowl of beans, lentils. Esav didn’t value his birthright in the least. Probably a message in there for those that would pressure Israel to give up land for peace. It never works, because like Esav, they just always want more and don’t keep their end of the bargain. So, Yakov is returning home with his wives, their handmaidens and 12 children, a passel of camels, donkeys, sheep, goats and some servants. Yakov has done well, he is a very successful shepherd. But, he is in a quandary, what will his meeting with his brother be like? Will Esav still want to kill him, or will time have mellowed him. Yakov sends angels to ascertain his intentions. Turns out Esav hasn’t changed a bit. He’s heading towards Yakov with 400 men. Yakov is way outnumbered.

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed (Gen. 32:8)

From Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks:

The fear is understandable, but his response contains an enigma. Why the duplication of verbs? What is the difference between fear and distress? To this a Midrash gives a profound answer:

Rabbi Judah bar Ilai said: Are not fear and distress identical? The meaning, however, is that “he was afraid” that he might be killed; “he was distressed” that he might kill. For Jacob thought: If he prevails against me, will he not kill me; while if I prevail against him, will I not kill him? That is the meaning of “he was afraid” – lest he should be killed; “and distressed” – lest he should kill.

And this brings us to self-defense.

One might argue that Jacob should surely not be distressed about the possibility of killing Esau, for there is an explicit rule: “If someone comes to kill you, forestall it by killing him.” Nonetheless, Jacob did have qualms, fearing that in the course of the fight he might kill some of Esau’s men, who were not themselves intent on killing him but merely on fighting his men. And even though Esau’s men were pursuing Jacob’s men, and every person has the right to save the life of the pursued at the cost of the life of the pursuer, nonetheless there is a condition: “If the pursued could have been saved by maiming a limb of the pursuer, but instead the rescuer killed the pursuer, the rescuer is liable to capital punishment on that account.” Hence Jacob feared that, in the confusion of battle, he might kill some of Esau’s men when he might have restrained them by merely inflicting injury on them.

Self defense is very definitely a Jewish concept, but unlike his brother Esav who delights in it, Yakov will do so if required, but he wants to avoid it. The taking of a life is not something to be done lightly. So what did he do to try to prevent needless loss of life?

He had a three pronged approach. Prayer, he threw himself on G-d’s mercy, he sent lavish tribute female and male goats, sheep, donkeys, camels all with the proper proportion for the most effective breeding program. Sort of a gift that keeps on giving. But then he prepared for battle. He divided his people into camps, his thinking was that if one camp was attacked the other might escape. Then he had the children with each of their mothers. Yakov knew the four women would fight for their children, so he left the children with their mothers, then he placed himself in front of them. Esav would have to go through Yakov to get to his family.

I’ve heard the opinion that if Yakov had really trusted G-d there would have been none of this battle preparation business. He would have just gone and met his brother. I don’t agree with this opinion. I think people are people and they have plans of their own. Plans I may not appreciate or agree with. I think if their plans concern me, I want a say in how they turn out. As Esav’s plans would have included Yakov’s family, I figure he felt the same way. There are cemeteries with those that refused to believe anything bad would happen to them. I’ve heard that there were Jews in the Warsaw ghetto that refused the chance to escape because they didn’t really think the nazis wanted to annihilate them, and perhaps, because they expected a miracle. I heard Rabbi Tovia Singer say in a lecture that while the Jewish nation will always be preserved, that promise does not extend to individuals. I’ve also heard it said that when you pray for help, you usually have to do something, expend some kind of effort for him to have something to help you with. And so, Yakov had his three pronged approach, which ultimately was successful. There was no battle between brothers, only a brotherly meeting, with quite possibly temporary brotherly feelings judging from Yakov’s refusal of Esav’s offer to escort them. It’s like having a black snake to guard your chicken house from mice. Yeah….the snake may eat the mice, but more than likely it is eating the chicken eggs, and/or baby chicks. I’ll pass, and Yakov did as well.

Yakov and concealed carry holders face a moral dilemma. More from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Moral dilemmas are situations in which doing the right thing is not the end of the matter. The conflict may be inherently tragic. Jacob, in this parsha, finds himself trapped in such a conflict: on the one hand, he ought not allow himself to be killed; on the other, he ought not kill someone else; but he must do one or the other. The fact that one principle (self-defence) overrides another (the prohibition against killing) does not mean that, faced with such a choice, he is without qualms, especially given the fact that Esau is his twin brother. Despite their differences, they grew up together. They were kin. This intensifies the dilemma yet more. Sometimes being moral means that one experiences distress at having to make such a choice. Doing the right thing may mean that one does not feel remorse or guilt, but one still feels regret or grief about the action that needs to be taken.

Even people of great faith, realize that there is a time to “Praise the L-rd and pass the ammunition”.

There is nothing about being prepared with a gun, a concealed carry endorsement if your state requires it, that says you don’t believe that G-d can and will keep you safe. We have fire extinguishers and spare tires, right? We have generators for bad weather, and carry an umbrella. The right tool for the right time.

That I think, is one of the things about concealed carry holders that leftists, politicians and the #FakeNews (sometimes one in the same) don’t understand about “gun nuts”. We are not anxious to kill, we don’t want to do that. What we do want is for us and our families to be safe.

Heat seeking bullets, who knew? Did BassPro have these listed in the Black Friday flier?

Self defense is not a spur of the minute deal. We put thought into what gun, training tactics, classes and tests to be able to live as free citizens. Just like Yakov had his three pronged approach for meeting Esav, we too plan our defenses.

These mixed feelings were born thousands of years earlier, when Jacob, father of the Jewish people, experienced not only the physical fear of defeat but the moral distress of victory. Only those who are capable of feeling both, can defend their bodies without endangering their souls.

Because like Yakov facing Esav, there can be bigger, stronger, mightier evil that hates us.

Elected Moonbat Swalwell
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7 thoughts on “Self Defense notions from a Patriarch”

  1. Sheila,
    I find this a very strong message of support for our defending ourselves and our loved ones, provided that we seek to live peacefully with all, when we can. I actually have another passage from the Book of Nehemiah, when it became known that the Israelites were seeking to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

    7 But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth,

    8 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

    9 Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our G-d, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

    Note that Nehemiah trusted G-d, but he still set a watch, to protect himself and his people. I myself am not the scholar that many are, when it comes to the Bible, but on certain points, I am confident, and the fact that we are not to allow others to cause harm to us or our people, is one of them. There are other places where it is implied, but this one place, with Nehemiah, is to me quite plain.
    Always, it comes back to relying upon G-d for our protection, but we are also to make our own preparations for everything that we can.
    When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and wanted water, G-d told Moses to speak to the rock. Now, we know that G-d could have just made the rock spring forth with water, but the fact that Moses was to speak to the rock, tells us that we are often to rely upon the Lord, but still must do our part to ensure that we are not counting on the pious idea of sitting and waiting for something, when it is within our sphere of action. I know that I am not saying this the way I want, but I hope you understand at least the gist of my thoughts. The thought is that we can both rely upon G-d and still act within our human limits, and are not being unfaithful or unbelieving.
    I wish you a great week, and it is always good to see you post here, since you always make me think. Carl of course, is fantastic as well, and informs and encourages. I find myself relying upon him for knowledge about the gun culture and those who battle it. I check this website as part of my regular day to day searches. So I must say, thank you, for all who make it happen.

  2. Bear, I suspect it won’t be long before there are some lovely additions for your library from Ms. Occasional-Cortex.

    Oh Pigpen, thank you! It’s readers that inspire! I love the story of Nehemiah as well! Build with a sword at your side. The people that want to do what G-d laid out for them, but they know that there are forces that want to stop that. They pray, and go about their business, but like Nehemiah and Yakov, they have their “battle plan”.

    Swalwell brings to mind a question I ask people about gun grabbing politicians “What is it that they want to do to us, that they can not do to us unless we are disarmed?” You will find out, but when you do it will be too late to turn back the clock.

    Ya’ll have a wonderful week as well!

    1. I’m sure Che-quita will offer up some doozies. So far, most her idiocy has been economic (trillions in new healthcare, trillions more for 100% renewable energy in ten years, still more trillions in UBI) and foreign policy (Israel and Palestine). But eventually she’ll realize she has to ban guns to do it, and the RKBA entertainment will begin.

      1. I know that at times, we as a nation have elected some people with, shall we say, marginal character traits. But the crazies really stepped the game up by electing this woman Cortez, or what ever her handle is. They did not even bother with a character check, they only voted for someone dumb as a box of rocks.
        And what is almost worse, she has a degree from Boston College, when she can hardly string two words together that make any real sense. But she does have the one thing that matters to the liberals. Ok, 2 things, but I won’t go there. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

        1. Pigpen you are too harsh on rocks. Ease up a touch, alright?

          As to your mention of Democratic Society of America, as far as I recall that basically evolved out of Stdents for a Democratic Society Most of the ones I knew back in the day that were enamoured of that outfit talked and thought a whole lot like the new JOOOONYER Senatrix from Noo Yawk. More and more are reaising that having a degree means little else than an unnatural load of debt, on the one hand, and paltry means for resolving that debt. I think this O-C’s bamboozle is one of the more brilliant ones I’ve seen to deal with student debt. She oughtta just go into movies…. che can present herself convincingly to the majority of today’s flicker fans. She may ave difficulty submitting her unrestraned will to those who, on the sets, will tell her what to do…… j

  3. And she is VERY proud of that Demoncratic Socialist membership. What gets her extra derision from me is she is Antisemitic and Anti-Israel. Case closed.

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