Torah For Today: Sir David Amess

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Torah For Today: Sir David Amess

Rabbi Ariel Abel reflects on the tragic death of an MP, and offers a response from Jewish texts

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

A woman holds a framed picture of Sir David Amess with a candle (Photo by Tejas Sandhu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A woman holds a framed picture of Sir David Amess with a candle (Photo by Tejas Sandhu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

The recent murder of Southend West MP Sir David Amess (pictured) has shaken the nation. What does the Torah say about killing people of high profile?

The murder in the 5th century BCE of Gedaliah ben Ahikam, the Babylonian-appointed governor of Judea, and descendent of the Davidic royal line, should make us think ever more carefully and protectively about the importance of leadership to us.

Gedaliah, for whom there is still a fast day reserved in the Jewish calendar, was not favoured by all; he was a foreign appointee. Nationalists such as Ishmael ben Netanyahu, an interesting name in the context of modern politics, thought he was better removed from post, and murdered him at
a feast on Rosh Hashanah.

Many readers will remember the demise of Yitzhak Rabin, and how that shook Israel and Jews everywhere.

Once solutions degrade to the level of political assassination, society is in peril of losing its way. Threatening people, cursing and maligning is no way to carry on disagreement. Jews live to debate and disagree.

David Amess was a close friend of the Jewish community and a descendant of Sephardic Jews who came to this country in the 18th century.

This is the second murder of a politician and MP in recent times; Jo Cox died for the views that she was instructed by her electorate to represent.

Owing to the respect we must have for court procedure, it is correct not to speculate at this time why David Amess was murdered. But the lesson is clear: murder of a leader or high-profile person is a loss to and an act against the entire nation, whose dignity and interests they represent.

May his soul find rest and peace.

υ Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

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