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The brutality of war, which of course is unavoidable since the immediate purpose of war is to kill as many of one's adversaries as possible, transforms the moral compass and the logical judgment of soldiers. The Torah posits a case of a Jewish soldier taking and assaulting a non-Jewish woman captive. It then forces that soldier into a marriage with the woman that will undoubtedly have generational consequences.

The Torah also recognizes the psychological damage that such a relationship will suffer because of the original act engendered by war. Divorce, family dysfunction and domestic discord are most likely to follow this couple in the near and far future. Yet, the Torah makes allowances for such an occurrence in the first place. Why should the Torah countenance such seemingly immoral behavior? Does this not legitimize immoral and violent behavior?
The Torah not only opposes sin but it is very careful to emphasize that even the appearance of possible sin is to be avoided at all costs. Yet, here we see an entire section of the Torah that is devoted to somehow allowing and condoning what in all other circumstances would be considered a sinful and fairly negative pattern of behavior. So, why does not the Torah simply forbid the act initially, as it forbids many other acts of human desire and violent behavior? Why here is allowance made for human weakness and error when in so many of other cases of this type, the moral code of the Torah remains steady and inflexible?
This moral dilemma has vexed the scholars of Israel throughout the ages. Rashi here, quoting Talmud and Midrash, states that the Torah here recognizes and “speaks” to the base nature and animalistic desires of humans. It therefore accommodates itself to the situation and attempts to channel it into a more positive relationship with all of the laws that it then formulates for observance. But this really only begs the original question of why is this case allowed to be so exceptional and other instances of the same type of base human nature are explicitly forbidden under almost all circumstances.
There is an instance of insight that does appear in the comments of the later rabbis to this matter. In essence, it states that war by its very nature changes the human nature of the soldiers who participate in its battles. The soldier is no longer a human being in the sense that he once was but rather he becomes a legitimate killer who is to become devoid of all ordinary human feelings, restrictions and inhibitions. As such, the soldier requires a special code of law that is not relevant to ordinary people and usual situations. It is to this state of being that the Torah addresses itself.
Unfortunately, war has been a steady occurrence throughout human history. Peace is the rarity, not war. The Torah in recognizing this sad fact of human existence thus makes necessary adjustments, unpleasant and dangerous as they may be, to this ugly fact of life.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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