Like a Fire on Shabbat


What does one do if a couch catches fire on Shabbat? This is not a trivial problem. To extinguish a flame on Shabbat is to perform a melachah. The holiness of Shabbat prohibits the performance of melachot.

Should we therefore let the couch burn? Some would say yes. And if the fire spreads, as fire always does, do we stand by and let it spread because of the holiness of Shabbat? Some would say yes. And when the draperies and the other furniture catch fire and the living room is engulfed in flames, should we still watch the fire spread and do nothing? Indeed there are those who would say that we should wake the children, bundle as many clothes around ourselves as possible, take food enough for a few meals if we can carry such into a permissible domain, and evacuate the house. Some would say that we should stand outside and watch the house burn to the ground because of the holiness of Shabbat. If the goyim call the fire department, these people would say, we should let them. But, they would say, because of the holiness of Shabbat, we should not fight the fire ourselves. The holiness of Shabbat, these people say, is so great that damage to mere property, on any scale, is insufficient to justify the performance of even the smallest melachah.

A naïve reading of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch would seem to support this line of reasoning. In the laws of fire on Shabbos, we see a discussion of what may or may not be saved from a fire that is out of control. We see a statement regarding the permissibility to put out the fire if there is a danger to life. We even see a statement that Jews who live intermingled with goyim may put out the fire, presumably lest their inaction be cause for a pogrom. But we see no discussion on how to prevent the spread of the fire, contain it and extinguish it.

Many modern “poskim” rule that, indeed, we should let a whole house burn to the ground and be rendered destitute lest the holiness of Shabbat be violated. This only proves what Vienna Mike has asserted many times – the rulings of a “posek” who does not earn parnassah to support his family via a full-time real world job are the celestial castles of an ivory tower academic with no connection to reality. Such “halacha” has all the binding force of the prattling of a parrot. Men who rule this way are men whose needs have been provided for by others throughout their entire lives. Because they have never done an honest day’s work, they have no conception of the value of property. Because they expect that all things will be provided to them regardless of circumstance, they have neither conception nor fear of poverty. And because it is not their own house that is on fire, they can rule from the comfort of their armchairs that “sacrifices” must be made in “honor” of Shabbat, no matter the circumstances. Thus the shower of free lunches provided to these worthless loafers causes them to distort Torah and harm the Jewish People as a whole.

There is a simple logical technique called reductio ad absurdum. In one of its forms, it consists of taking an argument to extremes and determining whether it leads to absurd results. If it does, then the argument as originally constructed is flawed. Either the argument is entirely false or boundary conditions exist outside of which it is invalid. In the case of a fire on Shabbat, for example, we can use reductio ad absurdum to prove the fallacy of ivory tower “poskim”.

Let us suppose that we watch a couch burn and the fire spreads. So we evacuate the house. We watch the house burn and the fire spreads to the grass and brush outside. So we walk away from the fire. But fires are funny things. As long as there is fuel, they keep spreading. What is more, because they dry out things around them, fires have the nasty tendency to spread faster as they grow bigger.

Suppose we still do nothing about our fire. After all, if we did not try to extinguish it to save a house, why should we try to extinguish it to save some brush? Soon the whole neighborhood is engulfed in a firestorm. And if we still do nothing, it will be the whole city! In fact, if we do nothing, eventually it will become impossible to outrun the spreading fire. Hundreds of people died in Australia this past week because they forgot that a spreading fire in dry brush can and often will outrun an automobile.

So a city burns down because of the holiness of Shabbat and hundreds of people die trying to outrun a firestorm? But it gets worse! Cities are more than valuable property. Cities contain resources. Food, water purification systems, shelter from the elements, all these are much of what makes a city. If disaster relief does not arrive promptly, not only could people perish in the initial firestorm, but starvation, disease and exposure would kill many more the initial number of victims. Clearly the situation is absurd. Halacha cannot demand that we permit a fire to spread out of control because of the holiness of Shabbat. And indeed it does not.

Abandoning the prattle of modern pseudo-poskim, we can turn back to the Sages of the Talmud, all of whom had to work for a living. What do we find? Well, unsurprisingly, we find that the Sages make a rather large distinction between putting out a candle on Shabbat and preventing the spread of a house fire. Turning to tractate Shabbat 16:5, we discover that in the event where great loss is threatened if one does not act, one can certainly prevent the fire from spreading and can even extinguish it by indirect means. What is important is the INTENT of the person and SCALE of the circumstances. As long as we are dealing with a house fire and not with a candle, we can make fire breaks of vessels full of water. If the vessels burst and release the water and the fire is thereby extinguished, we are not liable. We can pour water all around the fire, soaking everything so it will not burn. If the water happens to run into the fire and extinguish it, we are not liable. If a piece of furniture catches fire, we can spread a wet hide or wet towel over it. If the fire is thereby extinguished, we are not liable, for we were merely trying to prevent its spread.

This is what is known as sanity. Halacha is not a suicide pact, nor is sacrifice demanded for no reason. Accepting death rather than worshipping idols is heroism. Allowing a fire to burn out of control because of Shabbat is insanity. The Torah demands the former, but it does not demand the latter. The Torah is not insane.

How is this applicable to the case of Medinat Yehudah? Why is the author wasting your time with this? After all, this is The Virtual Medinat Yehudah, not The Virtual Yeshivah! You did not come to this site to read abstruse halachic treatises. Fear not, dear reader. This issue is clearly applicable to the problem before us.

As any normal Jew will point out, the life of a Jew is holy. We are commanded to love a fellow Jew. We are commanded to protect him. Certainly we are not permitted to curse him, spit on him, throw rocks and garbage at him, beat him, even kill him. Why, that is hillul Hashem! Jews do not fight Jews.

Some persons point out that there are Jews in the Israeli army and in the Israeli police. We have already established that a person who beats Jews with clubs, sexually assaults Jewish children, throws Jewish toddlers out of windows, demolishes homes, desecrates schuls and hands pieces of Hashem’s Holy Land to Moslems cannot be a Jew. Thus we know that the vast majority of those who serve in the IDF are goyim and erev rav, regardless of the length of their peyot or their Shabbat observance. But what of the rest? What of those who would refuse orders to participate in a pogrom, yet wear the uniform of the pogromschiks? What of those unfortunates who, addled by a lethal combination of naiveté, mamlachti herecy and achdut propaganda, continue to serve in the very army that throws their Jewish brothers and sisters out of their homes? If a Jewish Resistance fights the IDF and these individuals are harmed in the process, is this not forbidden?

Some persons point out that there are a few Jews scattered among the Hebrew-speaking goyim of North Tel Aviv. We have already established that those who send thugs to beat Jewish children with clubs, sexually assault Jewish girls and demolish Jewish homes, those who support pogroms against Jewish communities and the handing of pieces of Hashem’s Holy Land to Moslem murderers cannot be Jews. But what of those who do not? What of those who oppose these policies but, addled by a lethal combination of naiveté and propaganda, continue to vote for murderers like Netanyahu(y”sh) and the monsters to his political left? If a Jewish Resistance attacks the Israeli elite in its dens of iniquity, surely Jewish bystanders will be harmed. Is this permitted?

Some would say that it is not. Some would say that we should permit the fire of pogrom and expulsion to spread because of the holiness of Jewish life. Some claim that we should stand limply by and wave orange ribbons as every Jewish community in Yosh is crushed under the threads of Israeli bulldozers. Are they right?

Dear reader, it is like a fire on Shabbat! If we stand by and do nothing, the fire will spread. It will engulf the entire Jewish population of the Holy Land. Expulsion will lead to expulsion, pogrom to pogrom, rape to rape, assault to assault, murder to murder until we arrive in due course at the Second Holocaust itself! Should we permit a Second Holocaust because of the holiness of Jewish life?  That is absurd!  Is Hashem’s Holy Torah an insane suicide pact? Surely not!

My brothers and sisters let us not worry about the lives of a few lunatics who choose to associate with Israeli murderers. Let us worry instead about the lives of our families and children. This fire cannot be permitted to spread any further. It must be contained, driven back, turned on itself and ultimately extinguished. If the Israeli enemy makes a checkpoint full of hesder Yeshiva freierim in an effort to stop Jews from defending a yishuv under attack, there is no halachic difficulty with beating these hesder freierim aside, cursing at them, spitting at them or even killing them. Perhaps after a few examples are made, the hesder freierim will reconsider their choice of uniforms. And if not, we are not liable.

If a Jewish resistance fighter plants a bomb in a posh treif restaurant in North Tel Aviv, let him not worry about any potential Jew who might be walking outside when the bomb goes off. This Jew would not be a victim of the resistance, but a victim of the Israelis who have sparked resistance by their murderous antisemitic policies. Perhaps his death would cause other Jews to stop frequenting Israeli neighborhoods. And if not, we are not liable.

If it is necessary to send a Jewish warrior on a suicide mission to detonate high explosives at a bus stop full of Israeli soldiers, let us not worry about the sanctity of his life. His blood is on the hands of the Israelis who drive the Jews to such desperation by their continued oppression of the Jewish People and their continued occupation of Medinat Yehudah.

The Torah is not a suicide pact. There is a fire burning out of control in the Holy Land. In the name of “peace”, Israeli murderers are plotting to hand the Jewish heartland to the Moslem enemy. My brothers and sisters, this fire must not be allowed to spread any further. It must not be our intent to kill fellow Jews. But if Jews die as a consequence of our efforts to liberate our country and prevent a Second Holocaust, so be it. The alternative is absurd.

21 Shevat 5769


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