Duma: A mark of disgrace and shame
Duma: A mark of disgrace and shame

The details emerging from the Duma murder indictments add up to a massive mark of Cain, a dark blot of shame and moral disgrace, from a humanistic, Zionist, Israeli and religious standpoint. The very thought that a Jew, and even worse, one that claims to speak in the name of the Torah of Israel and its value system, is capable of burning to death three innocent people, including a one-year-old infant, is horrifying.

Maimonides meant what he wrote in his seminal halakhic work "Mishneh Torah" when he asserted "that although there are sins worse than murder, they do not destroy civilization as does murder, and anyone who has committed that transgression is a wholly evil man and all the good deeds he has done in his life do not outweigh this one terrible deed."

Every man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Time will tell if the confessions were extracted from those accused by means of torture and force. But the very thought that it is possible for Jews to have done this criminal act is terrifying as much as it is shameful. Without any connection to the court proceedings, all of Israeli society must ask itself, paraphrasing the biblical prophet: "Who gave birth to these, while I am bereft and abandoned? And who raised them?"

It is not enough to give a one-dimensional answer that aims all its arrows at religious Zionist education or at the fact that these were dropouts from the educational system. True, there are certain groups in religious Zionist society who can hardly wait to live their dream of establishing the "true kingdom of Israel" by "tomorrow morning."  There are rabbis and halakha teachers who play around with these and similar ideas once in a while when in their students' company. We sometimes even hear the vision of "eliminating idol worship from our land."

However, the vast majority of this generation's halakhic mentors and educators know how to differentiate between innermost hopes (no matter how morally and ethically skewed) and actual deeds. It is not necessary to add that they are revolted by any thoughts of murder, or tenuous connection to murder. Still, now that we see the test results, one gets the impression that the voices raised in protest, if there were any, at remarks that gave the slightest legitimacy - even unconsciously and unintentionally - to these insane acts of terror, were too weak.

How strongly we miss the clear and unequivocal voices of Torah values and ethics, such as those of Rabbis Amital and Lichtenstein, the Deans of Har Etzion Yeshiva, who warned again and again of the distortion of morality that condones harming a non-Jew, of the slippery slope of revenge.

The halakhic, moral and philosophical attitude to the "other" is not born in a vacuum. It is the result of an ongoing process, spread over many and varied fronts: moral, educational, ethical, philosophical and Torah-true. No one is born a "refugee" from the educational system, whether of his home or his school, no one turns instantly into a blood shedding caveman or hilltop dweller. This is a process that took years to reach fruition.

In days of yore, as the Torah prescribes, when a corpse was found in a field and his assailant was unknown, the elders of the nearest city would go out to the site of the murder and announce for all to hear: "Our hands have not shed this blood and our eyes did not witness it."

The Midrash asks: "And did it enter your head that the elders of the rabbinic courts are shedders of blood?" And the answer it gives is succinct: "there is not the slightest direct connection between this abominable murder and the elders, but despite that, they must assume responsibility." The educational failure in providing the proper response to a murderer – often many years before the perpetration of an that wicked act – and the lack of proper attention to the efforts to correct his ways, can lead to the terrible outcome of murder and bloodshed.

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky, Op-ed and Judaism editor.