By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Throughout the impending Rosh HaShana Davening we say the words, “ki saavir memsheles zadon min ha’aretz – and remove the dominion of evil government from the land.” It is well known that the Iranian regime is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people every year. In fact, if calculated fully, it numbers in the several thousands each year.
The news reports that over 50 people have been killed this past week protesting the Iranian government with over 3000 people arrested. Footage from social media show police officers using live ammunition on protestors. The protests started because a 22 year old woman died in police custody after she was arrested for not wearing an Islamic head-covering. The protests have spread to over fifty locations.
Elan Musk has offered to allow Iranian citizens to use his Starlink Satellite system to give protestors the ability to use social media. The Iranian government has s
Thirteen years and 3 months ago, there were other protests in Iran called the “Green Revolution.” It was an opportunity lost that could have saved tens of thousands of lives and possibly hundreds of thousands of lives in the past thirteen years. The world now has another opportunity.
On June 12th, 2009 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner of a presidential election that most experts claim was the result of fraud. President Obama did not react and publicly downplayed any possibility of real change. His pithy reaction was, “The world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.”
In a 2016 book entitled, “The Iran Wars” Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon reported that President Obama had overruled advisers who wanted to do what America had done in the past where we had helped democracies emerge and overruled murderous dictatorships, for example, in Milosevic’s Slovakian regime threatening Hungary in the year 2000. In 2003, President Bush interfered when Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze had rigged the election. Shevardnadze stepped down.
Solomon writes that Obama had actually ordered the CIA to sever all contacts with the green movement’s supporters. Solomon writes, “The Agency has contingency plans for supporting democratic uprisings anywhere in the world. This includes providing dissidents with communications, money, and in extreme cases even arms nut in this case the White House ordered it to stand down.”
Obama ended up doing nothing. Not only that but President Obama ended all U.S. documentation of Iranian human rights abuses. He even wrote personal letters to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei assuring him the U.S. was not trying to overthrow him.
We now have an opportunity to undo that grave error. It would save so many lives, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. Doing so involves numerous Mitzvos as well.
The verse in Parshas Ki Taytzai (Dvarim 22:2) discusses the Mitzvah of Hashavas Aveida – returning an object with the words, “Vahashaivoso lo – and you shall return it to him.” The Gemorah in Sanhedrin (73a), however, includes within its understanding of these words the obligation of returning “his own life to him as well.” Jewish life is at stake here if any of these three issues become a problem. The Mitzvah is very applicable. It is highly probable that it is to this general Mitzvah that the Shulchan Aruch refers to in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 325.
LO SAAMOD AL DAM RAYACHA
There is a negative Mitzvah of not standing idly by your brother’s blood as well. This is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (CM 426:1) and in the Rambam. Taking political action here, can ensure that we do not stand idly by our brother’s blood.
LO SUCHAL LEHISALAIM
There is yet another negative commandment associated with the positive commandment of Hashavas Aveida, and that is the verse in Dvarim (22:3), “You cannot shut your eyes to it.” This verse comes directly after the Mitzvah of Hashavas Aveidah. The Netziv (HeEmek Sheailah) refers to this Mitzvah as well.
V’ChAI ACHICHA IMACH
The Sheiltos (Sheilta #37), based upon the Gemorah in Bava Metziah 62a, understands these words to indicate an obligation to save others with you. The Netziv in his He’Emek She’ailah understands it as a full-fledged obligation according to all opinions. He writes that he must exert every effort to save his friend’s life – until it becomes Pikuach Nefesh for himself.
V’AHAVTA LARAYACHA KAMOCHA
The Ramban, Toras haAdam Shaar HaSakana (p42-43) understands the verse of “And love thy neighbor as yourself” as a directive to save him from danger as well. Although he discusses the issue of medical danger, it is clear that this is an example, and it would apply to danger from physical enemies as well. Even without the Ramban, however, it is clear that defending and protecting someone from danger is a fulfillment of this Mitzvah.
Some will argue that the Iranian regime will blame Biden and it will not help. But they did so even back in 2009, and they will anyway blame it on Biden, regardless of what he does.
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