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Rejoicing at the Downfall of Our Enemies

Written by , 20/5/2024


Rejoicing at the Downfall of Our Enemies:

Rabbi Shay Tahan


When we experience a defeat of our enemy a question must be asked: are we allowed to feel happy when wicked terrorists get punished for their actions? The pasuk says: " " meaning that one should not rejoice at the failure of his enemy, and it continues: " ' ". The Mefarshim explain that the end of the pasuk goes so far as to say that Hashem gets so angry when we rejoice at the downfall of our enemies that He sometimes removes the punishment from the enemy and sends it upon the person rejoicing.

The Gemara ( , ) actually deals with this question, explaining that when Mordechai was going up on the horse, he kicked the wicked Haman with his feet. Haman turned to Mordechai and asked him from the above pasuk, Arent you restricted from showing happiness while your enemies are suffering? Mordechai then told him that there is a difference between a wicked Jew who gets punished, at which we shouldnt feel happy, and a wicked non-Jew who gets punished, where we are permitted to feel happy. The explanation is simple: when our brothers are being punished, even though they deserve it, we should still feel their pain. According to this approach, we can conclude that its permitted to be happy at the death of those evil terrorists since they are not our brothers.

Still, there is another question that needs clarification: when the Egyptians chased the Jewish Nation at the sea, Hashem drowned them all in the ocean. Seeing the Egyptians dying, the angels wanted to sing praises, but Hashem stopped them, responding that its not correct to do so when His creations are being destroyed ( , ). We see again the idea of holding back from expressing happiness when our enemies are being punished.

But that is not always the case, since Chazal tell us that there are times one should feel happy upon seeing the wicked being punished, and it is then a positive thing to rejoice. The Gemara ( , ) explains that King David, who was constantly singing praises of Hashem with Tehilim, didnt use the praise of Haleluya until he was happy to see the downfall of the wicked. Another pasuk says that there is joy when the wicked are eliminated, and Sefer Chasidim (237) even says that one may be punished if he isnt happy when the wicked are lost.


A few approaches have been suggested to answer the above contradiction:

a.       The Zohar ( , ) says that the difference is where one has been sinning over and over again. Hashem usually doesnt punish right away; rather, He waits for the person to repent and change his ways. If that doesnt happen, then there is a point at which Hashem decides that the person wont change his ways anymore and that He has waited long enough, and the person needs to be taken down. At that time when Hashem punishes him, there is much happiness. In the case of the Egyptians, says the Zohar, they didnt reach that point yet, and therefore Hashem wasnt happy with their death. This answer doesnt really relate to us because we dont have a way to know if and when a person has reached the point that Hashem gives up on him. Only Hashem knows this and therefore He told the angels not to sing. Still we, as a nation, are allowed to sing when we are saved from those evil Arabs.


b.       Some say that the prohibition to sing and rejoice is only while the wicked are being punished. At that very time, Hashem is sad to see His creations die, but after they were punished one may express his happiness (Rosh David, Parashat Beshalach 54 and Iyun Yaakov, Berakhot 9). This explains well the reason Hashem prevented the angels from singing, because they asked to sing while the Egyptians were drowning. Afterward, it was surely permitted, as we see that Moshe and the nation sang Shirat HaYam. According to this answer, we may rejoice after we hear that those terrorists were taken down.


c.       Another answer is that the angels were not allowed to sing as they were not the ones who were being saved from the Egyptians. But the people, who were chased to be killed or to be taken back to slavery, were allowed to sing and Moshe and the nation indeed did so. This answer can teach that with the current event, the Jewish people, who were saved from the Jihadists, are permitted to express their happiness.


d.      One can surely make a distinction between one's enemy who isn't wicked, in which case one shouldn't rejoice upon their downfall, and the wicked who are the enemies of Hashem or Klal Israel. In those cases, we can be happy and express our happiness.


There are a few more answers to the above, but overall we learn that its correct and even expected of us to rejoice at the destruction of those evil murderers.

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