MembersCunning as Serpents, Part I

One of the more complex aspects of human life is found in the need to exercise certain acts of immorality in a particular situation.

By Tsvi Sadan |
Photo: Creative Commons

Abraham presenting his wife Sarah as his sister is but one example of resorting to cunning to avert a threat. What would be considered unacceptable under normal circumstances became necessary in a time of clear and present danger. Contrary to our typical moral disposition, given his particular circumstances, Abraham showed a healthy moral backbone.


To put this issue in a more modern, relevant context, we can look at the ongoing, and now out-of-control, debate regarding moral standards in the Israeli army. Particularly worrisome is a new brand of hyper-morality that challenges traditional morals like “kill or be killed.”


War, as everyone knows, suspends certain aspects of morality, “Thou shalt not kill” being but one of them. Treating war and its special circumstances as inexcusably evil is to deny human nature, which try as we might refuses to yield to any notion of utopia. Pacifists and their like are mere walking dead in an imperfect world.



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