Torah for Today: What does it say about… Acid attacks?

Torah for Today: What does it say about… Acid attacks?

Rabbi Ariel Abel takes a topical issue and applies an Orthodox response

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

The recent rise in acid attacks against innocent people has horrified the UK public. What does the Torah say about those who carry out such crimes?

God created us in His image and our faces are what we are recognised by. Defacing a human being is an attack on godliness. Furthermore, identity is said by the Talmud to be definable by the nose. The face is sacrosanct.

There are, however, cases in the Bible where unusual physical harm was done by our leaders to their adversaries.

When Joshua caught the cruel Canaanite king Adoni Bezeq, he cut off his big toes and thumbs to cripple him.

This was a lesson to him and all like him to cease this cruel practice, which he had inflicted on so many during
his reign.

The Torah teaches lex talionis, that the same should be done to the perpetrator of a physical assault.

Our rabbis have interpreted and applied financial compensation as the solution, rather than the literal “eye for an eye”.

In cases of acid attack, it is almost impossible to understand how a victim can be properly compensated for a loss as extreme as this.

The severe pain caused to a person and the extensive operations they will have to undergo serves to underline the seriousness of the attack.

Lawmakers want to upgrade acid attacks to grievous bodily harm and ensure that offenders experience the full measure of the law.

Remarkably, incidents of this kind in London were carried out by young teenagers on bikes, one younger than 16.

It is astonishing that young people can be so indiscriminately cruel.

There must be an immediate and extensive treatment of mental health issues, hand-in-hand with a firm and effective drive to moral education, good citizenship and responsibility.

Rabbi Ariel Abel is minister of Liverpool Princes Road Synagogue and chaplain to the Army Cadets

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