Who Deserves Death?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: How can it be logical to murder someone for their false beliefs? Where is the "due process" involved when a religious person murders another person due that person "deserving death because their ideas are so wrong"? My reasoning for the belief that Jews were meant to coexist and act as a beacon of education for the Gentile world comes from TaNaKh, prophets,etc. Why else did Hashem say to us that we would have to struggle with Gentiles after Joshua failed to drive them from the land? Are we not meant to educate the world? I feel some fear when I read on your website that "some people are so wrong in their beliefs, that they deserve death".
Mesora: Yes, the Jews are to act as a beacon to the rest of mankind. However, the light source of our tower is not generated within, by human reasoning. Our beacon of light - our teachings - are really a reflection of God's instructions. We mimic the Creator, as His knowledge is absolute truth. He alone provides true light.
Many errors arise when man attempts to project his own, false ideas upon the landscape of morality, previously spread out by God. Such a landscape is governed by God's objective borders. If we are to arrive at the basis for the death penalty, we must consult God's Torah, the only guidebook to morality.
We find that God killed peoples and nations for their distortion in practice, and yes, even for harboring corrupt ideas. The idolatrous city and Amalek are wiped out, although they harm no one physically. What does this teach us? The lesson here is that God's plan for man is the only plan for man. When people stoop to a level of philosophical deviance, their existence is worthless, purposeless, and harmful to others. If God wishes others be not led astray, His wisdom thereby dictates the destruction of all members of such a people, including babies. We can almost hear the shouts of "intolerance" and "brutality" at my last sentence, but again, man's reaction does not affect truth. Justice demands that even infant life born in such cultures be terminated, perhaps for a number of salient reasons, including the inescapable grip their culture bears down on all members. There is in some societies no possible salvation from their distorted views and practices. They must all be exterminated.
God's plan is man's achievement of perfection, knowledge of God and the practice of God's morality. Those members of mankind who reach this objective have realized man's true purpose, and are worthy of life, even extended life. Those who have not, but can, are given about 80 years to accomplish this task. Those who will never reach this goal, are at times commanded to be put to death - out of the way from other potentially perfected people, lest the latter stumble in their current state of ignorance.
Life per se is not a good unless it partakes of God's guidelines. When man does not live as God desires, he is punished for his crimes. Equally true, man is killed as a preemptive measure, saving others from following the corrupt fools, losing their one chance at a life of perfection.

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