Peoplehood & Community

Mutual Responsibility & Redeeming Captives:
The Jewish Imperative

Maimonides wrote: ‘There is no greater mitzvah than the redemption of captives’. Why is this so? What precedents do we have in Jewish history- from the bible until today? What is difficult about this mitzvah?

July 4, 1976. The world stood in awe. The day in which the world would congratulate the United States on its bicentennial, the headlines were stolen by a tiny country in the Middle East. In a daring, unprecedented move, Israeli commando units swooped down on Entebbe, Uganda, freeing 106 Jewish captives and flying them safely back to Israel. The Jewish world swelled with pride at this incredibly daring feat, at the sight of Jewish soldiers saving their fellow people from the hands of those who wished to harm them! Redeeming captives is not a mitzvah only recently discovered along with Entebbe or Gilad Shalit. It has deep roots in Jewish sources- with examples and stories throughout Jewish history. It is the topic of much debate in discussion, in the Talmud and in Jewish law. What is the Jewish imperative for Pidyon Shvuyim? Why is it so important and why is it so complicated? In this unit, we include two options of exploring the issue- a text study for a group setting, as well as a series of short podcasts on the topic.

Adults Middle School Teens Young adults
© Noa Kelner 2023

Dedicate this activity in honor of

Evyatar David 23
Evyatar was kidnapped from the party in Re’im.
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