What’s the Rebbe’s View on the Hostage Deal?

As the Jewish Nation across the world eagerly awaits the returns of 50 mothers and children held in captivity, Jews are fiercely debating the morality of the hostage deal. As Chassidim we turn to the Rebbe for guidance.

By Anash.org staff

Early Wednesday morning, the Israeli government approved a deal for the release of a tens of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Simchas Torah in exchange for 150 Palestinian terrorists and a 4 day ceasefire.

The Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisroel and across the world eagerly await the returns of 50 mothers and children held in captivity in Gaza. But the bittersweet deal is not without fierce debate about the morality of such a hostage agreement.

Proponents of the deal see it as a one time chance to secure the release of the most vulnerable hostages, mainly mothers and children. They say it will free them up to fight the war more affectively if the children are out of the way.

Critics of the deal see the agreement as giving Hamas a lifeline which will allow them to regroup and fight another day. Even worse is releasing convicted terrorists who will likely go on to recommit acts of terror.

Opponents look no further than the last hostage deal Israel made with Hamas in 2011 for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit was exchanged for over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists including Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the Simchas Torah massacre.

As Chassidim we naturally turn to the Rebbe for guidance in times of uncertainty.

In 5739, the Rebbe strongly protested a prisoner swap when over 70 Arabs prisoners – including over 30 convicted terrorists – were exchanged for one Israeli soldier Avraham Amram, when not long before, America and Russia had swapped five for two! Though a Jewish life has infinite worth, the Rebbe explained, they could have obtained the same soldier for many fewer Arabs. Furthermore, this crossed the red line of negotiating with terrorists who openly said they would continue their terrorism.

The Rebbe called it a weakness and a diplomatic move to win favor in the eyes of the Americans and Arabs. Moreover, said the Rebbe, putting terrorists in prison to begin with, rather than executing them, was a big mistake, since it invited pressure to release them at some point.

On another occasion, during a yechidus with an Israeli official, the Rebbe strongly criticized the Israeli governments policy of arresting and imprisoning Arab terrorists. “You are mistaken when you arrest and imprison terrorists,” the Rebbe warned. “These terrorists came to kill and they should be killed. You’re going to end up paying dearly when they demand the release of these killers in a prisoner exchange.”

What are you thoughts about the impending exchange? Please share it in the comment below.

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  1. Absolutely no one has the right to start saying that because the Rebbe said something in the past regarding a specific situation means that it also applies in this situation. It’s 2 completely different times and 2 different situations,there is no basis to say the Rebbe said this or that, You can say that the rebbe said this in the past but not necessarily can you just say that this is the rebbes opinion of the current situation

    1. What do you mean there is no basis? Now that what the Rebbe said was sadly proven to be correct, I would say it’s even more applicable than before.

      1. You MAY be able to say that there is a difference here, because it’s a ratio of 3 to 1 (as opposed to 70 to 1)

      1. The Rebbe spoke about trading one person for 70. NOT 1:3.

        Of course what the Rebbe said is applicable. But it’s wrong to say that the Rebbe clearly said that any and all prisoner swaps are bad.

        Keep in mind: 1. The terrorists had a lot more in mind in the beginning. The fact that such a deal is even possible is because of the intense pressure the Israelis are putting on them. That’s a far cry from just giving in and allowing many prisoners to go free because that’s what the terrorists asked for.
        2. They are working very hard to let out the least dangerous people.
        3. There is a serious and very real risk of all these hostages being killed R”L.

        I think it deserves more thought than an overly simplified “the Rebbe said it’s wrong”.

        1. Right now it’s 1:3 and only for people who attempted to murder but weren’t successful because it’s for some of the women and children.

          But this is one the beginning. When it comes to negotiating for the men and Israeli soldiers their demands will be much bigger r”l and Israel is already showing that they are open to negotiating and listening to their demands etc.

        2. 1. In that case, there is only more reason to increase more pressure and get a better, more sensible deal
          2. Correct, and yet, those “least dangerous people” are murderers who will try to murder again rl
          3. It’s 100% pikuach nefesh whatever way you look at it. Especially considering that some of them were kidnapped wounded or sick. The question is how much one is allowed to put other Jewish lives at immediate risk in order to save them al pi halacha. Not even talking about diplomatic and other long term consequences.

          No one disagrees that such a situation deserves more thought than “the Rebbe said it’s wrong”. But this thought must include learning what Torah says about such a situation. Unfortunately, this is not the first time in our history that yidden were held captive by an enemy in a horrific situation. There are halachos that address it.

          That being said, I want all of our captive brothers and sisters safely released immediately, and daven with all my heart that they are alive, safe, and healthy biguf uvinefesh. As we all do. It takes a person of steel to follow through with such gut wrenching decisions.

        3. At least then it was a soldier kidnapped so it wasn’t as morally abhorrent, but Israel is negotiating with terrorists over kidnapped babies and civilians?! That’s a new low.

          Now the arabs will just kidnap Jewish babies to bank leverage. And they’ll have Bibi to thank for gifting them this new reality. Shameful.

        4. Impossible to extrapolate
          what the Rebbe would have said in this tragic crisis.
          Keeping terrorists rather than executing them yields information and even turns some in into agents for Israel.

          1. We wouldn’t need information and agents because if we executed them they would respect us at least enough that they don’t want o be executed for trying anything. But they know we are weak in that regard.

  2. It is not an accurate comparison, there was never a situation like this with so many Jewish children being held captive, we must do everything possible to free those alive today.

    1. Shall we allow them to execute Jewish people in order to free the children? Obviously not. By now history has already taught us that releasing terrorists will cost Jewish lives. And a cease fire for 5 days is Gaza will bederech hateva also cost additional Jewish lives.

    2. Including making sure that they remain alive and are not captured again by the same terrorists who were freed from prison for them

  3. It seems that the Rebbes point can be split into two:
    1) we could of gotten away with less terrorists being released in exchange.
    2) we shouldn’t negotiate with them to begin with.

    In regards to the first point, I would say that it is very possible Israel got away with the best scenario they could of, that being 1:3, the reason I say this, is because Israel has historically demonstrated willingness to release terrorists disproportionately, and as the rebbe says “giving in once will only invite more pressure” so I think Israel was sadly in a position that the terrorists would not have ever agreed to 1:1 ratio, they would rather kill the hostages than do that because of the expectation the have based on passed experience, and it would shame them if they show the palastinians that they have lost this point of power they always had against us. The rebbe was protesting the idea before there was any “expectations” the terrorists have about what we should give in return. In other words there’s no point in crying over spilt milk.
    In regards to the second point, I’m not sure what was the rebbes reason for this, but if it is because it legitimatizes the terrorists, I think that concern might not exist here either, because the reason we don’t want to legitimize them is so the world won’t pressure us to not destroy them, but I think that in this situation, Israel is in a situation where the world is not able to demand that Israel stop the war until Hamas is not existent, because of the severity of what they did, so maybe this issue isn’t existent here either but I’m not sure.

  4. One more point: there’s another question that needs to be dealt with here: it’s not just releasing terrorists, rather also making a temporary ceasefire to allow them to regroup and better fight the idf. THIS is what I believe is the real reason I believe the rebbe might be against this deal.

  5. IMPORTANT to note the Kill Them Rather than arrest them.

    If they come with guns, even if they could hurt a jew, because of whatever reason, they deserve to die. Shulchan Aruch, 329
    states that on a border, when it’s just for business that they come…we are to go out against that on Shabbat.

  6. Shulchan Aruch states clearly that we are not allowed to redeem a Jewish captive for more than they are “worth”, since that will encourage the taking of more Jewish captives.
    Anyone who doesn’t see how that would apply here either doesnt know enough information about the current matzav or doesn’t know enough about similar situations in the past.

    Even one reporter in the “media” started to question why Israel values Palestinian lives as one third of the life of an Israeli. While the question is worded anti-semetically, including completely glossing over how those Israeli lives landed up in such a position to begin with (as opposed to actual criminal “Palestinians” in jail), not to mention that any country would “value” their own citizens lives over others, it is a very true point. Yiddishe lives are invaluable. But they cannot be “traded” that way, since that will only cause more harm to future yidden.

  7. In addition, there are a few more problematic points here:
    1. Releasing murderers back to their homes, with the certainty that they will try to kill yidden again in the near or far future. While the government may have an easier time keeping an eye on them in yerushalayim as opposed to Gaza, this doesn’t seem to have dettered terrorists in the past.
    2. Claiming that they are “only” letting out women and “children”, none of which were convicted of actual murder, when in fact many of these terrorists are only “attempted” murderers because bechasdei Hashem they were unsuccessful. Many of these “children” are as old as 17, old enough to be a regular part of Hamas’s army. Age and gender do not distinguish a terrorist, actions do. Next time Israel is forced to arrest a women or child terrosit, it will be met with stronger international pressure to prove that this person is actually dangerous, because Israel itself made that distinction.
    3. Any sort of negotiation, especially one that does not include the release of every single captive, alive or not, already gives legitimacy and power to Hamas.
    4. The danger to the soldiers stationed in Gaza who will remain there while not being allowed to fight
    5. Does anyone remember a time when a ceasefire was decided and our enemies kept to it? The pressure to keep to the deal will be only on Israel.
    6. Many of the hostages that will be released under these conditions are leaving behind family members in Gaza. Such a move gives absolute leverage to Hamas, including potentially threatening the released hostages that if they say or do anything against Hamas, their relatives will be harmed. The 2 women who were releases a few weeks ago were both released without their husband’s, almost certainly tainting anything they said publicly about their captivity

  8. Why should a potential terrorist be afraid to attack if he/she knows that they will be released as soon as their friends kidnap a Jewish soldier, or anyone for that matter? And if they die, that doesn’t scare them either, since for most of them, that’s their goal.

  9. “Moreover, said the Rebbe, putting terrorists in prison to begin with, rather than executing them, was a big mistake”
    The Rebbe didn’t say Israel should execute them, what the Rebbe said is to kill them rather arrest them. See the original posted in the article. Executing them is a very different Halachik consideration

  10. of course we want the hostage back safe

    but if one terrorist freed from the shalit deal planned the killing of 1200 jews, that means freeing these terrorists is endangering many more jewish lives

    was it worth saving the life of shalit in exchange for 1200 other jews?

    החכם עיניו בראשו

  11. The problem this time is not just the exchange for prisoners, it is the giving of humanitarian aid, including fuel, which will end up in Hamas’s hands. It is also that these pauses are, c”v, leading to a permanent ceasefire. Although hostages are being released, it is showing that Hamas ym”sh, are setting the terms of what is happening. President Biden is already pushing for, c”v, a two-state solution and the government of Eretz Yisroel is already giving into too much.

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