Friday, April 8, 2011

All societies have right to survive - even by capital punishment

From Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Chasam Sofer (O. H. #208): It seems to me that the rulers of any society have the right to execute and punish because of the verse “You have the responsibility for blood” (Devarim 19:10) as is interpreted in Mo’ed Koton (5a). It is logical that even if the Torah hadn’t been given they would have this right. And this was true also prior to the giving of the Torah since there were laws and civilized conduct and every king preserved society through laws (See Rema #10). When the Torah was given there was a reestablished of the laws of society and certain changes were made such as a thief had to pay double and a non dangerous ox paid half damages and the nature of the responsibility of watchmen. This of course doesn’t mean that harmful behavior which wasn’t mentioned in the Torah was permitted - such as damage which is not physically manifest because the ways of Torah are pleasant. Nevertheless they are not included in the laws of the Torah and the king and Sanhedrin are given the discretion according to place and time how to deal with these issues. So surely they have the right to remove the many harmful agents such as murderers who don’t have witnesses. The ways of the Torah are pleasant and all its paths are peace.

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