Nuclear War and Mass Destruction in Judaism

Judaism prohibits military action that will result in a colossal number of casualties.

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The overemphasis of the seriousness of the minor prohibition to tell an untruth at the expense of letting a person die is an example of an ethical valuation that is completely contrary to the Jewish ethical norm. In general, the under-emphasis of the biblical ethical mandate of "not standing by while one's neighbor's blood is shed" is the hallmark of those who adopt a system of pacifistic ethics and explains why such an ethical direction is contrary to Jewish law.

If one could save a life by telling a lie, such a lie would be mandatory in Jewish ethics.

The use of tactical (battlefield) nuclear weapons designed solely to be used on the field of battle would, in circumstances where the complete destruction of the combatants be permissible (such as after the proper warning and peace seeking), be acceptable.

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Rabbi Michael Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is an associate professor of law at Emory University and the rabbi of the Young Israel of Toco Hills, Atlanta.