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Violence In The Torah

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Topic: Violence in the Torah

From: Tim Lieder

Dear Rabbi,
Was the point of your "Torah Weekly" insight (Parshat Pinchas) — in which you wrote about the immorality shown on TV — that we should not read the Torah, since it has so many shocking and immoral acts in it, including violence?

Dear Tim Lieder,
No, we should study the Torah. One reason is that it is educational.

Television, too, is educational. Unfortunately, it is teaching the wrong lesson.

The average five-year old sees hundreds of acts of violence, murder and other acts of immorality each year on television, films, videos and video games. So do his parents. He and his parents do this for entertainment. Rarely is there an obvious moral or lesson conveyed.

The Torah, on the other hand, educates us to be good. For example, the Torah says "Cain rose against his brother Able and killed him (Genesis 4:8)." Immediately Cain is punished by G-d with exile and the eventual dying out of his line after seven generations.

The immoral advances of Potifar's wife toward Joseph are related in the Torah (Ibid. 39). Joseph's resistance eventually leads him to become viceroy of Egypt and gains him the praise and blessing of his father (49:24 and Rashi).

Immoral acts are described by the Torah matter-of-factly and as briefly as possible; no gory details are offered for our "entertainment."

The word "Torah" means "instruction." The Torah is our instruction manual for life. A manual shows what to do and what not to do; what works and what doesn't work; what is good and what is evil.

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