Judaism: Dvar Torah on Shoftim
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"lRevered rabbi, author and gifted lecturer in USA who studied at YU and Slobodka, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual advisor) of Rabbi Chaim Berlin Yeshiva and later head of Beit YIsrael Yeshiva. Aug. 28, 1908 - Apr. 20, 2001. Rabbi Avigdor Miller Sent by Simchas Hachaim Foundation, based on the works of Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001). Discover more at SimchasHachaim.com.
You should not leave a soul alive. (20:16)
Of the nations of Canaan, the decree is that they either depart or be totally destroyed.
This is the same Torah that commands to spare the mother-bird (22:7) to teach our nation the quality of compassion.
But this commandment to destroy the Canaanite peoples is an even greater act of compassion upon the people of Hashem, "in order that they should not teach you to do according to all their abominations".
We learn here that the use of the emotions is subject to the principles of Hashem.
The same is true even regarding fellow-Israelites: "Your eye shall have no pity" (19:13, also 19:21) and even an entire Israelite town must be utterly destroyed (13:16) sometimes. The two contrary attitudes must be learned side by side.
The evil nations that deny the Creator and claim today that all is the result of accidental development, and therefore all emotions are meaningless accidents: they assume artificial emotions of pity upon degenerates and criminals, and great compassion upon animals; yet encourage the murder of unborn children, and euthanasia.
The Creator is the Designer of emotions, and the holy people employ the emotions solely according to Hashem's infinite wisdom.
When King Saul yielded to his emotion of compassion upon the Amaleki, he committed the error of attempting to be more righteous than Hashem (although in the case of this excellent man, this was merely a subconscious reaction). (Journey into Greatness)