Law v. chain of command.

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    and my heads just start spinning in loops.


    This is a big issue for goyim, since most western legal systems considering it a valid defense that someone is following orders with a possible exception only of one knows that the orders one is following were also illegal.

    For Jews this isn’t an issue since halacha is very clear due to the doctrine of “???? ??? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ?????? “. The only possible defense to following an order contrary to halacha is that it didn’t violate something that is covered by “???? ??? ?????” – and that doesn’t always apply (e.g. ??? ???). That means in a military such as that of the United States or Israel, where they don’t kill soldiers for refusing orders, it is never permitted to violate halacha due to superior orders (noting that doing something otherwise forbidden may be permitted for other reasons, such as preservation of your own life – but halacha allows that).


    Well, I guess Jews know what halacha is; and dumb goyyim like me are perplexed; so we are inclined to do what a superior says rather than try to understand whatever it is they think up in congress.


    akuperma: Good point. Kibud Av V’Eim does not apply when a parent tells a child to violate halacha.


    To “Charles Snort” — translations

    ???? ??? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ?????? = The words of the teacher, or the words of the student, to whom do you pay attention (as in: what Ha-Shem tells you to do, or what anyone else tells you to do, which do you pay attention to).

    ???? ??? ????? = [you are required] to allow yourself to be killed rather than violate the law – this applies to unlawful spilling of blood, idolatry in all forms, or engaging in a sex crime — whomever is trying to coerce you to violate these laws is considered a pursuer trying to kill you and you may kill him in self-defense

    ??? ??? = period of persecution – such as when the powers that be are demanding non-observance of mitsvos as part of a program to undermine Torah and mitsvos — in this situation, even the most trivial minhag (e.g. tying shoes one way, if the non-Jews tie it a different way) is mandatory even if it will result in death



    So the Nazis Yemach shemam were jusy following orders so why should they be held accountable? At least anyone not in a high position?


    WIY: Under German law, the only thing the Nazis had to worry about was if an eventual court found they hadn’t received valid orders. Some were a bit nervous about it. While the Brits and Soviets just wanted to execute war criminals with minimal trials, the Americans insisted on “due process of law” and ended up largely inventing modern international criminal law. It was quite radical since most western countries had always held that a soldier following valid orders was not subject to punishment.

    Halacha is totally different than the goyim’s law. This has been an issue for the Israelis. It may become a very big issue when they start conscripting the Benei Yeshiva in a few months (assuming anyone shows up) – since if halacha as determined by the Bnei Yeshiva differs from what the army says, they will refuse to follow the orders. And if most hareidim regard the situation as “Shaas ha-Shmad”, they will be strict on everything


    Actually The Nazis violated several treaties the Germans had signed

    They Violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact which outlawed war (They Weimer Germans had signed this)


    1. The Germans maintained they were acting in self-defense (which had the won the war, history would duly record — though the surviving Jews would have an oral tradition to the contrary). I believe they also renounced the Kellogg-Brian Pact.

    2. The Germans passed a law authorizing the government to take all necessary measures (the “Night and fog” law) and if this was legal, it would be a defense under German law. The Allies disagreed. There’s a good chance than had Rommel become the new leader (in the unlikely event the July 1944 putsch won), he probably would have found many Germans were acting illegally (and one can argue that the Nazis were more afraid of a future German government blaming them for the holocaust than they were afraid of the Allies or the Jews, since they assumed they would be summarily shot if they lost the war – something the US wouldn’t allow). Needless to say, any Germans with “fear of G-d” probably fled the country or ended up being executed (though some survived).

    3. From a Jewish perspective, everyone involved in the holocaust was guilty regardless of who gave them orders, though that position is not universally shared by the rest of the world (whose legal traditions allow for a criminal defense based on following orders).


    They could not renounce the Kellogg-Briand Pact although maybe they could have claimed they did.

    Much of the Nuremberg trials was based on the Germans disobeying the treaty (It might be flimsy)


    Thanks for your helpful explanation akuperma.


    Akuperma, you said: “This is a big issue for goyim, since most western legal systems considering it a valid defense that someone is following orders with a possible exception only of one knows that the orders one is following were also illegal.”

    I suppose the possible exception is the fundamental issue. Ignorance of the (clear and valid)law is not an excuse both in the religious and secular context. There is also a presumption of knowledge of the law.

    In Germany, the law of following orders unconditionally may have been inherently tyrannical and therefore unbinding(see our declaration of independence for rationale).

    The only real questions arise when 1. there is a disagreement as to the content of the law, or 2. the question isn’t whether the law was technically violated, rather, whether we found the right scapegoat. Receiving orders going against the law may be a mitigating excuse as to the punishment but don’t (in a civilian context) justify violation.

    As far as whether the chain of command in a military context requires the soldier to follow orders unquestioningly, there are laws about that too. Soldiers are taught what they may or may not do. So long as the (secular) laws don’t violate basic principles

    of decency (and/or the constitution), the law always trumps all.

    In summary, the law always takes precedence, in every context, unless the law is fundamentally flawed.


    You shall obey the law of physics!

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