"Jubilation When The Wicked Perish"

An interesting debate is being conducted in some circles in Israel as to precisely how happy one should be at Arafat's demise.

, | updated: 18:23

One Biblical verse that has often been quoted of late is, "When the wicked perish, there is jubilation" (Proverb 11,10). A statement by the Tekumah party - a faction of the National Union - notes that the Talmud cites this verse in response to witnesses who fear that their testimony might help put someone to death. The judges tell them, "You will not be liable for this blood; it is rather a merit for you, to purify the world from evil and to add light and joy, as is written, 'When the wicked perish, there is jubilation.'"

Tekumah also quotes Rabbi A. I. Kook, Chief Rabbi of pre-State Israel, as writing that the verse implies that even "evil itself, in its depth, longs for its own demise and rejoices in it." The Tekumah statement concludes, "If we recall the dark passion of the terrorists to kill themselves together with their victims, and Arafat's wish to be a shahid [martyr], we can begin to understand Rabbi Kook's words, and see the kindness that was done to Arafat with his passing from the world."

Others quote a different verse in Proverbs: "When your enemy falls, do not rejoice" (24, 17). Some explain, however, that this is referring to one's personal enemy, but not to "wicked people" in general, over whose downfall one should rejoice. Others explain that this means not to have public rejoicing in the streets.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem and Rabbi of Beit El, writes that when considering the injunction not to "rejoice upon the fall of your enemy," it depends who the enemy is:
"When the Purim story occurred, Mordechai did not act particularly compassionately towards Haman. When the latter cited this verse, Mordechai replied that it did not apply to him. The same with Arafat, who killed many Jews and left many widows, widowers, orphans and suffering wounded... It's true that G-d told the angels not to sing when the Egyptians were drowning in the Red Sea - but the Children of Israel did sing! We, too, are not angels - just as the Rabbi of Pisetzna, Rabbi Kalman Kalonymus Shapira, wrote during the Holocaust: 'Did an angel ever get hit? Did an angel ever get murdered? Did an angel ever get humiliated? We did! In Egypt, the angels didn't suffer - so they don't have to sing [afterwards]. But we did suffer, [and that's why we sang]...' For Arafat we say, 'when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.'"

The Pikuach Nefesh Rabbis Association, headed by Rabbis Yaakov Yosef (son of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef), David Druckman of Kiryat Motzkin, and Yosef Garletzky, similarly states that the day of Arafat's death is one of "happiness and rejoicing for the Nation of Israel." The organization published a call to make the day one of celebration, and stated,
"We wish to uproot the mistake of those who mock those who are happy on this day as 'right-wing extremists," as those who do so, deviate gravely from the natural instincts and feelings of our people, who hate the enemies of the Jews and are happy at their downfall. 'So may all Your enemies fall, O G-d!'"

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