Policing and Self Defense

Question

My question is about the police and military. While doing their job they might need to kill someone. Does God forgive them? I mean, in the Ten Commandments it says “Thou shalt not kill.” Does the military get special forgiveness for breaking this commandment? Thank you.

2 weeks

Answers

  1. A very interesting and practical question since the world has always seemed to be a dangerous place and there always seems to be a war of some type someplace in the world at any given time.

    Your question is one that I receive relatively often and is based on a misunderstanding of the verse in the Ten Commandments that you mention. It is often translated, as you write, to be saying, “Do not kill.” This makes it sound like any type of killing is a forbidden. However, there is actually no commandment not to kill. The commandment is in fact: “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” This would not apply in situations of war or times of danger. It is referring to times of peace. The Torah is teaching us that, under normal circumstances, human life is sacrosanct.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team