Megillat Tochecha - Scroll of Rebuke

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Issued by Rabbis in Support of American Compassion and Hope on March 27, 2003

Lo Tis-na et a-chi-cha bil-va-ve-cha. Ho-chay-ach to-che-ach et a-mee-te-cha, v'lo tee-sa a-lav chet. You shall not hate your fellow human being in your heart. Rebuke your fellow human being but incur no guilt because of him.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:17

Rebuke leads to love, as it states: Rebuke a wise person and he will love you. This is the opinion of Rabbi Yossi the son of Chanina who said: "All love that does not include some criticism is not true love."
Proverbs 9:8 and Genesis Rabbah

It is our obligation to be critical when we see that society or individuals are making terrible mistakes. Criticism is an expression of our care for others. It is our sacred obligation.

Because we care deeply about the United States of America;

Because we believe that those who dedicate their lives to the military are part of the precious resources of our country, whose lives are ours to protect to the fullest extent possible-especially since they have voluntarily committed themselves to protect our lives and our country;

Because we care deeply about the fate of all humanity, even those who have been deemed "our enemies" (having been guided by the rabbinic injunction, hakem takim imo "you shall surely lift him up"(Baba Metzia 32a)-which was understood by the sages of our Tradition to indicate our sacred obligation to aid anyone in distress, even our enemy);

Because we care about the invaluable relationships that have been established by this country with other nations throughout the world over more than fifty years, painstakingly building a model of international cooperation and mutual respect;

Because we envision a world in which someday "nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4);

Because we want to be a model for future generations, teaching that the way to resolve conflicts is not through aggressive or violent means, but rather--to the fullest extent possible--through peaceful and diplomatic means and negotiations;

Because we believe that all human life is sacred, created b'tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and therefore should be preserved at all costs until that moment when one's own safety and survival are clearly jeopardized--

Therefore, out of our love and commitment to the men and women fighting this war for our country, and out of our love and commitment to the high ideals on which this country was established, we take upon ourselves the sacred obligation to rebuke our government--its leaders and advisors--for the following:

  • For its failure to "seek peace and pursue it" through diplomatic processes and for its arrogant dismissal of many other nations' efforts to secure more time to pursue peace.

  • For needlessly endangering the lives of our brave military personnel before expending every effort to avoid war, thereby destroying many of their lives and affecting those whose loved ones are killed or maimed or scarred by the terrors of war.

  • For abusing the tragic fate of the Iraqi people, suffering under a ruthless dictator, to initiate a radical shift in American strategic doctrine to a policy that allows unilateral aggressive military action with complete disregard for our allies and world opinion.

  • For claiming to stand against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction while provoking that very proliferation in North Korea and elsewhere throughout the world.

  • For exploiting the fear that was generated in this country as a result of the September 11th attacks and using that fear to confuse and bully the public into supporting an unprecedented and dangerous policy of unprovoked, pre-emptive war.

  • For lacking vision and a plan for the unprecedented and mammoth task of taking over an entire country and rebuilding it without the maximum international legitimacy and the allies required for this task.

  • For precipitating a major humanitarian crisis without insuring the resources to protect water, food, and ecosystems, while simultaneously preparing a massive shift of American resources from the needs of the American and global publics to the most privileged sectors of American society.

  • For taking billions of dollars from hardworking taxpayers that are desperately needed for social services for the most vulnerable, and diverting those funds to finance mortars and weapons which are being used to destroy and raze ancient cities--only to have to rebuild them again with taxpayer money that will flow to private corporate interests.

  • For compromising the civil liberties that are the very fabric of American life, the provision of freedom of speech, movement, and belief for all individuals regardless of their race, ethnic background or religion--fighting for "freedom" abroad while steadily eroding it at home.

  • For destroying the trust that once existed between people of varying backgrounds by encouraging neighbor to spy on neighbor and denigrating the views of those who dare to express dissent by declaring their expression unpatriotic and suspect.

  • For arrogantly dismissing the opposition voiced by millions of people worldwide, as well as losing the respect of the world community by not responding with decency to leaders like Pope John Paul II, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and past president Jimmy Carter.

  • For the attack on and wounding of precious institutions and systems that have been built over many decades to ensure international peace and cooperation (UN Security Council), systems of justice (World Court), survival of the planet (Kyoto Agreement), and weapons proliferation (land mine and disarmament treaties).

  • For further jeopardizing the safety and security of Americans throughout the world and demonstrating the worst of American character in what appears to most of the world as an arrogant American religious crusade of domination, thereby squandering the admiration and love which many peoples feel for the good heart of the American people, the strength of our systems of justice, and the beauty of our pluralism.
This critique flows from our hearts with love for our country, and for those who serve our nation. May they come home soon and safely. May our leaders hear our rebuke, acknowledge its truth, and change their ways. And may the world soon know peace.