Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Permissible Price of Redeeming Hostages

I know, this post is a bit out of sync. The issue was discussed at length last month, and, for the few of you who follow such matters, the Daf Yomi is from last week. But that's how it is when I travel.

Mishna: It is forbidden to redeem hostages for too high a price, because of Tikkun Olam.
The Gemarah then asks how this ruling fixes the world. Is is that the price of redeeming hostages will be exorbitant, or that paying it will encourage more hostage taking? The story of Levy bar Darga is cited: he was a very wealthy man, who redeemed his kidnapped daughters for the walloping sum of thirteen thousand gold dinars. Abbaye, however, wonders if bar Darga's action would have been sanctioned by the rabbis - and if not, it doesn't teach us anything.

Gitin tractate 45a

The most significant thing about such discussions is the underlying assumption: morality is a matter of right or wrong, not of circumstances. The reason you discuss moral issues when you're not under pressure is to have thought-out answers ready for the times when you need them; when you need them you won't have the presence of mind to think things through.

This thread began here. It's also a continuation of the Tikkun Olam thread that began here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brim over I assent to but I dream the collection should have more info then it has.