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Rejoicing at the Destruction of the Wicked

What is the geder of “b’nfol oyvecha al tismach”? Am i not permitted to be happy that Gadafi or any terrorist is killed?

Thank You and Chanuka sameach


On the one hand, the pasuk tells us that we should not rejoice at the downfall of our enemies.

But on the other, the pasuk also states that “be’ibud resha’im rinah,” meaning that the destruction of the wicked is cause for celebration.

How do these two sources go together?

The Gemara in Megillah (16) quotes Haman as asking Mordechai how he can rejoice at his (Haman’s) downfall, for surely the verse teaches that one should not rejoice at the downfall of his enemies. Mordechai, the Gemara explains, replied that the verse does not refer to the wicked among the nations, but only to the wicked of Israel.

Another possibility is that we are expected to have mixed feelings about the downfall of the wicked. Of course, we are happy and joyful at the destruction of evil, and the more so with regard to our enemies who wish to destroy us. Yet, we are also distressed at the loss of human potential.

This is perhaps why Israel could sing after the Egyptians were drowned at the sea, yet the Midrash writes that Hashem told the angels to cease from singing their song “while My handiwork drowns in the sea.”

It is fitting for those who are saved from peril to rejoice at the death of their assailants, and praise must be given to Hashem for the salvation. For angels, however, who see “the big picture,” there is no room for song, because of the great loss of human potential.

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