Torah for today: Alex Baldwin
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Analysis

Torah for today: Alex Baldwin

Rabbi Zvi Solomons takes a topical issue and looks into Jewish texts for a response

Rabbi Zvi Solomons

There is a curious idea in the Torah of cities of refuge. The Torah tells us that, on conquering Israel, we are to set up three such cities on either side of the Jordan River, so a person committing accidental manslaughter can flee there. The avenger (a relative of the dead victim) can kill the perpetrator if he leaves the area of the city prior to the death of the High Priest, when they are released from their limitation; but at least they are not executed for murder.

It seems to me that Alec Baldwin falls into this kind of category. He did not intend to kill Halyna Hutchins, nor anyone;
yet he pointed what he was assured was a ‘cold’ gun at another human being.

The carelessness and sloppiness of the arms use on set have come under intense scrutiny. The liability of those dealing with the weapons is likely to be high. The rule to never point a weapon at another person, even in jest, is a vital one.

Baldwin is culpable in that respect. He is an unwilling manslaughterer and, in ancient times, might have taken refuge in one of those cities.

I have no doubt the lawyers will shortly be casting damages suits, which is also provided for under the Torah. There has, of course, been a criminal investigation.

The worst aspect is that the victims include the unwitting perpetrator. His conscience must be hurting badly in the wake of the killing. Perhaps his own sense of horror and guilt will act as a form of punishment; the publicity, certainly, is a potent warning to anyone wishing to use weapons when shooting films.

  •  Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves JCoB, the Jewish Community of Berkshire

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