By Dovid Sears
Translations from Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, p. 34.
More than 200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman was dismayed by advances in the technology of warfare, coupled with retrogression in the spiritual and moral spheres. He lived through the Napoleonic Wars, where the WMDs were cannonades and the first repeating “air rifles.” We can easily imagine what he would say about the world we live in today…
On the subject of wars between nations and needless bloodshed, Rebbe Nachman said, “Many foolish beliefs that people once held, such as forms of idol-worship that involved child-sacrifice, etc., have disappeared. But as of yet the foolish belief in the pursuit of war has not disappeared.” He used to ridicule certain scientists saying, “What great thinkers they must be, what great ingenuity they must possess to invent amazing weapons that can kill thousands of people at once! Is there any greater folly than this—to murder so many people for nothing?” (Chayei Moharan 546).
Yet in keeping with the ancient prophets, Rebbe Nachman also foresaw an end to war in a way by which the means would justify the end, and not the other way around:
Rebbe Nachman predicted, “The Moshiach will conquer the world without a shot being fired” (Siach Sarfey Kodesh II, 1-67).