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    In today’s climate,
    people are grappling
    with uncertainty about
    how to respond to the
    increasing inשcidents
    of anti-Semitism
    worldwide. The
    dilemma arises: should we flee or stay and
    confront the challenges? Even if the option to
    run is considered, recent events demonstrate
    that no corner of the world seems entirely safe
    for us. Another quandary facing the Jewish
    community is whether to apply for a gun
    permit. Raised and educated to respect and
    love others, and not to inflict harm in any way,

    the notion of wielding arms for potential self-
    defense goes against these values, presenting

    a moral conundrum for many.
    In this article, we will explore the Torah’s
    perspective on navigating the challenges
    posed by contemporary dangers and assess
    whether seeking a gun permit is aligned with
    its recommendations.
    Let’s begin with the core principle that Jewish
    people typically avoid targeting others unless
    it is necessary for establishing deterrence in
    self-defense. In contrast to nations that have
    historically targeted Jews based on religious
    persecution, jealousy, or animosity, Jews, as a
    generalization, do not harbor an inherent
    desire to inflict harm on others. Instead, the
    primary objective is to coexist peacefully,
    guided by the principle of “live and let live.”
    Therefore our emphasis in this article is
    specifically on the aspect of self-defense.
    Thus, it’s important to note that our discussion
    goes beyond the old American debate on
    whether guns themselves are responsible for
    mass school shootings or if it is the evil
    individuals behind the guns who commit such
    acts. We are specifically addressing the
    importance of Jews holding guns as a means
    to protect ourselves from potential harm.
    Halachic Perspectives on Obtaining a
    Firearm License.
    It is an undisputed halachic principle
    universally accepted that individuals are
    obligated to protect themselves from harm.
    The concept dictates that one should not
    passively allow others to inflict harm upon
    them. The Gemara (סב סנהדרין (states that if
    someone attempts to take your life, there is a
    moral obligation to preemptively defend
    yourself by taking their life firstלהרגך הבא
    להורגו השכם- . The Gemara derives this
    principle from a case where a robber breaks
    into a houseבמחתרת בא- , and the Torah permits
    the homeowner to kill the intruder. The
    reasoning explained in the Gemara to justify
    this permission is that the intruder is presumed
    to use lethal force if confronted by the
    homeowner, and therefore, the homeowner is
    justified in taking action to protect themselves
    before being subjected to harm.
    Example to this we find in the incident
    involving Gedaliah (Yirmiah 40-41). After the

    destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem,
    the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah as
    governor over the remaining Jewish
    population in the land. However, Gedaliah’s
    lenient and trusting approach toward his
    political opponents led to a tragic outcome.
    Ishmael, a member of the royal family, plotted
    against Gedaliah and eventually assassinated
    him. Despite warnings from Yohanan about
    the threat to his life, Gedaliah did not take
    decisive action to protect himself. Chazal (נדה
    א,סא(criticized Gedaliah for not being more
    vigilant and for not taking the necessary
    precautions to ensure his safety in a politically
    volatile environment.
    This story is often cited as a cautionary tale,

    emphasizing the importance of self-
    preservation and the duty to take reasonable

    steps to protect one’s life, even in times of
    apparent peace. The broader lesson is about
    balancing trust and caution, understanding the
    potential risks, and acting responsibly to
    safeguard oneself and the community.
    As we journey through the Torah’s parashot, a
    recurring theme emerges – our forefathers
    were frequently engaged in battles and wars.
    Those wars were either fought in self-defense
    or to rescue hostages. Later, Hashem
    commands the conquest of the Land of Israel.
    Warfare for the Liberation of Hostages.
    Avraham Avinu, for instance, undertook a war
    to rescue his kidnapped nephew Lot,
    highlighting the prevalence of conflict in their
    The concept of engaging in warfare to rescue
    captives is evident in the Torah narrative when
    Shimon and Levi took action against the city
    of Shechem for violating and kidnapping their
    sister, Dinah. Additionally, the Israelites
    waged war when a female slave was taken
    hostage(א,כא במדבר (. The Torah narrative
    illustrates a justification for employing all
    means necessary in situations where a Jewish
    woman is violated or someone is held hostage.
    Afterward, Yaakok Avinu had to defend
    himself from the surrounding nations who
    came to attack him following the incident with
    .(רש״י בראשית מח, כב) Shechem of city the
    Yaakov emerged victorious in the war,
    declaring, “The land that I conquered with my
    sword and arrow.”
    In fact, Yaakov had to arm himself before
    meeting Esav. He prepared for the encounter
    with prayer, ready to engage in a potential
    fight if necessary. Yaakov dressed his people
    in white clothing, symbolizing goodwill as
    they greeted Esav. However, beneath the
    exterior of peaceful attire, they were armed
    and prepared to defend themselves if the need
    .(רמב״ן לב, ט) arose
    The Wars of the Nation in the Desert
    Not only did the Avot need to engage in wars
    for self-defense, but throughout the journey of
    Am Israel, they were also required to fight

    battles. This is exemplified by
    the fact that the nation emerged
    from Egypt armed, as the pasuk
    were Israel “,)שמות יג, יח) states
    armed when they went up from
    The Ramban asserts that the
    nation was armed to instill in
    them the confidence that they
    could defend themselves in the
    desert if necessary. The Gemara
    further) שבת ו, ד ירושלמי)
    elaborates on this verse, noting
    that they were armed with 15
    different types of ammunition.
    This emphasizes the importance
    of having a variety of means to defend
    ourselves, as in a war, a diverse range of
    techniques is essential to overcome the enemy.
    The Purpose of Being Armed for
    Confidence and Significance.
    One might question the above, considering the
    preceding pasuk explained that Hashem made
    the nation take a detour to avoid coming near
    another nation and experiencing war. Why,
    then, were they armed if they were
    intentionally kept away from potential areas
    of conflict?
    The Ohr Hachaim explains that even though,
    in reality, they may not encounter any wars,
    the mere feeling of being unable to engage in
    battle would be sufficient for the nation to feel
    lost. This sentiment could potentially lead
    them to retract and consider returning to
    We glean from his words that being armed
    contributes to a person feeling secure and
    reassured, even though they may not actually
    need it. The very sense of being armed already
    builds confidence.
    The Ramban adds another layer, suggesting
    that Hashem armed them not only for a sense
    of security but also to instill pride and honor
    within the nation. This was done to ensure that
    they did not emerge from Egypt with the
    mindset of former slaves escaping their master
    but rather with a newfound dignity.
    Once again, we can infer from this that being
    armed not only instills confidence but also
    bestows dignity.
    Additional verses from Tanach underscore
    the significance of being armed.
    Various psukim in Tanach emphasize the
    significance of being armed for protection
    from potential harm. For instance, concerning
    King Shlomo, it is written: “Here is Shlomo’s
    couch, surrounded by sixty mighty men from
    the mighty men of Israel. All of them are
    skilled in warfare, trained for battle, each with
    his sword on his thigh, guarding against the
    terror of the night.” (פ״ג השירים שיר(
    Another pasuk from King David, explaining
    about the righteous(קמט תהילים (:
    “Let the faithful exult in glory; let them shout

    for joy upon their couches, with paeans to
    Hashem in their throats and two-edged swords
    in their hands.”
    Certainly, there are spiritual meanings to all
    these verses, but Chazal emphasize the
    principle that the simple, literal meaning of
    the pasuk must also be studied.(א,סג שבת (
    Guided and Guarded: Protection by
    Heavenly Providence.
    Some may argue that since the Jewish nation
    is guided by heavenly providence, there might
    be no need for them to take active measures to
    ensure their safety. However, Rabbeinu
    Bechayey (יח ,יג שמות (offers an insightful
    perspective. He suggests that the reason the
    nation was armed when leaving Egypt was not
    to undermine the divine protection,
    symbolized by the glory clouds and the pillar
    of fire. Rather, it was to encourage the people
    to behave naturally.
    Rabbeinu Bechayey’s point is that while
    Hashem provides supernatural protection,
    there is an inherent value in people behaving
    in accordance with nature. Even in times of
    divine protection, Hashem encourages
    individuals to take practical steps for their
    well-being. This harmonizes the divine
    guidance with the natural order, emphasizing
    the importance of both heavenly support and
    responsible human action in ensuring safety.
    Even the righteous Torah scholars, who the
    Gemara (א,ח בתרא בבא (suggests do not require
    protection as the Torah protects them, as
    Chazal explained on the pasuk – “I am a wall,”
    referring to the Torah, and “And my breasts
    are like towers”; those are Torah scholars.
    Still, the Chazon Ish(יח ס״ק ס״ה (and Rav
    Moshe Feinstein (משה דברות(explain that they
    must behave according to nature and seek
    This was a brief overview among various
    sources that highlight the importance of every
    responsible Jewish person exercising their
    Second Amendment right. It serves as a
    reminder that predators target the defenseless,
    and if the majority of Jews are armed, potential
    attackers may think twice before initiating an