Can We Celebrate The Death Of The Wicked?

Here’s a Jewish law perspective on celebrating the death of the wicked.

On his radio show today, Dennis Prager said: “Jews cite a famous statement – do not rejoice at the fall of your enemy. (Avos 4:24)

“Like the Jesus statement to turn the other cheek, these texts deal about your enemy in your personal life. The application of micro into macro is just wrong.

“Bin Laden is not my enemy. He didn’t do anything to me. He’s evil. I wanted Pol Pot dead. He did nothing to me. He only slaughtered Cambodians.

“I hate that mass murderers live.

“The Jews did rejoice at the fall of the Egyptians when they were drowned in the Sea of Reeds. The Jews rejoiced led by Moses. The Jews sang a song unto the Lord. Did the Lord say I don’t like your song? Did He imply it?

“It’s considered one of the epic poems in history.

“There’s a weakening of moral courage and a weakening of the moral compasses of our time, even among conservatives and the religious.”

“You can’t rejoice at the death of Bin Laden? What are you supposed to do? Nobody asked this after WWII. Imagine – Hitler dead, don’t rejoice. Nobody thought that way.”

“If I feel sad about Bin Laden’s death, what do I feel about the death of his victims? If everybody’s death is a tragedy, then there are no tragedies. If everybody’s death is supposed to evoke from me the same emotional and moral response, then everybody’s death is flattened out into some equal plain? Am I allow to cry at the death of his victims but not cry at his death? Isn’t the absence of sadness a form of rejoicing?”

“In WWII, whenever American won a battle, Americans cheered. When America won the war, Americans went wild.”

Proverbs 11:10: “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.”


Prager H1: Dennis talks to David Pryce-Jones, senior editor at National Review and Middle East scholar, about the consequences of Bin Laden’s death. We didn’t get justice. We got vengeance. What’s wrong with that?

Prager H2: Astonishing work by the intelligence community lead us to Bin Laden. The key was identifying one of the two couriers who came in and out of the terrorist’s compound. Did waterboarding play a role?

Prager H3: Should we rejoice over Bin Laden’s death? This has been a question asked by many, both on the Left and the religious Right.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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